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Electric vehicles, ‘The Portland Way’

Posted by on July 29th, 2010 at 10:25 am

To say there’s momentum in our region for electric vehicles would be a major understatement. Last week, the Portland City Council voted to accept the recommendations in Electric Vehicles: The Portland Way, a report (PDF) on EVs that lays out a strategy for integrating more battery-powered cars into our city.

Report cover image.

This council action is the culmination of Mayor Sam Adams’ aggressive pursuit of an EV agenda. He’s lured a large battery maker from Switzerland to set up shop in Portland, he’s started a friendly, ‘I’m-more-committed-to-EVs-than-you-are’ competition with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, and late last year he traveled to Japan to meet with EV officials from Nissan and Mitsubishi.

According to the Mayor’s office, promoting EVs is way to accomplish the goals of job creation and meeting carbon emission reduction levels set out in the 2009 Climate Action Plan.

The new EV strategy report includes recommendations to:

  • streamline the electrical permitting process for charging stations,
  • provide private entities and utilities permission to place up to fifty charging stations in City right-of-way,
  • support regional job growth in the “clean-tech cluster”,
  • implement a “comprehensive Green Fleet vehicle plan” that includes purchasing at least 10 Nissan LEAFs in 2010 and having 20% of the City’s 2,800 vehicles run on electricity by 2030.

Similar to how streetcars and light rail are aggressively promoted in our region more for their impact on development rather than their transportation value, the economic argument is central to Adams’ EV push. In a blog post after the EV report was passed, Mayor Adams’ office wrote:

“…electric vehicle adoption and deployment is as much about meeting Portland’s sustainability goals and addressing anticipated transportation issues as it is about economic development.”

Building up our economy is important, but transportation is first and foremost about moving people through our city. On that note, the report acknowledges that EVs aren’t immune to the gridlock made famous by their gas-guzzling cousins.

“To ensure EVs do not further create congestion,” the report states, one of the strategies is to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through the “continued education about using transit, walking or biking for trips of 3 miles or less.” Bikes also appear in a section of the report dealing with carshare companies and transit agencies. The report states that PBOT and TriMet are “actively engaged in conversations” about creating “mobility centers” at major transit stations. These centers would include EV infrastructure, carshare vehicles and “bike-sharing bikes or other tools.” (City Hall has all but shelved the bike-sharing idea, so it’d be interesting if it ended up happening through this initiative.)

The political feasibility and environmental benefits of electric cars (over gas-powered ones) are obvious, but let’s remember that EVs won’t solve many of the transportation problems we face. The problem with our transportation system is that there are simply too many cars and trucks on the road, especially in the downtown core.

Or, in the words of writer Chris Baskind, “The problem is not how cars are powered, but that people feel they’re powerless to live without them.”

— Learn more about the strategy to make Portland “America’s electric vehicle hub at Mayor Adams’ website.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

45 Comments
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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

    The prospect of shutting down all the power plants that currently burn fossil fuels to support our present consumption of electricity will be made that much more difficult if we start driving electric cars. The only thing electric cars do is shift the air pollution out of our cities and to places like Boardman. The greenhouse gas emissions implications from switching from oil to coal+natural gas to power our transportation is iffy at best.
    Saying that we’ll power our electric cars with renewables like solar and wind is cute but foolish since we currently supply only a fraction of our non-transportation needs for electricity with these renewables. This is an attempt to rescue cars and automobility from the their inevitable fate. It only postpones the realization that we need to find ways to live comfortably without cars. Plus it involves sinking lots more resources and money into capital that could have been put toward real lasting human powered solutions.

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    peejay July 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Yawn. Same large, dangerous vehicles, same infrastructure requirements (and monopolistic demands on roadway space). New, however, is the way e-vehicles silently sneak up on unsuspecting children. So, it depends on whether we feel that trading gasoline by-product pollution on our streets for coal by-product pollution away from population centers — but still causing global warming.

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    Hart July 29, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Electric cars are a false, feel-good solution that does nothing to solve our energy crisis or sprawl development.

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    Brad July 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Political green washing at its finest.

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    Jon July 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Automobiles used by private citizens use less than 20% of the energy consumption in the United States (from the DOE and based an overall 28% share by transportation that includes private vehicles, aviation and trucking) in a given year. Our homes consume 21%, businesses 17%, and industrial 33% of the energy consumed in the US. Currently 67% of Oregon’s electricity is produced by hydro power and something like 4% wind. Adopting electric vehicles will dramatically improve the pollution due to transportation here in the Northwest.
    Personally I use my bicycle to commute about 90 miles a week in the summer and much less when the winter brings cold and darkness. I am looking forward to buying and using an electric car when they are widely available. They are great part of the solution as is increasing bicycle and other human powered ways of getting around. It would be nice if everyone bicycled or walked to do everything, but for the vast majority of the developed world, that is not practical today. For many elderly and disabled, human powered transportation will never be practical.
    -Jon

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    Anne Hawley July 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    The one great advantage of EVs over internal combustion is that they’re quiet. Since it seems obvious that Americans aren’t going to give up private vehicles anytime soon, I’d much rather have the roar of the urban freeway muted a little.

    And riding in a crowd of these vehicles would be easier on my lungs, too.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Jon @ #5 “Adopting electric vehicles will dramatically improve the pollution due to transportation here in the Northwest.”

    Only if you uphold the tradition of paying attention to criteria pollutants like HC, NOx, CO and ignoring CO2. With carbon dioxide, though, location doesn’t matter; it is the quantity emitted that matters. Adding electric cars into the mix cannot but extend the amount of time we’re tempted to keep the coal power plants running.

    If we reduce our consumption of electricity by 90% and our need for long distance transportation by a comparable amount–as we surely must–then modest use of electric cars could be as you say a salutary transition, but we’re putting the cart before the horse, focusing on supply before reducing demand.

    And for what it’s worth, last time I checked Pacificorp’s fuel mix corresponding to the electricity they sell was 80% coal. Cough.

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    Malex July 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    My understanding (sorry, I don’t have the time to back this up) is that, even if 100% of the electricity comes from coal, electric vehicles emit less greenhouse gas per mile than gasoline-powered vehicles.

    Between reduced GHG emissions and urban air and noise pollution benefits, I’m wholly in favor of electric vehicles.

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    Michael M. July 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Hmm, interesting characterization of light rail as being promoted here more for its “impact on development” rather than its “transportation value.” Streetcars, sure, but I don’t think development impact was the overriding consideration with LRT, vs say BRT or other options.

    And, as usual, I’m still trying to find the PDX downtown core traffic jams.

    Nevertheless, I hope that as EVs get more attention and mindshare, this will be a good opportunity to encourage people to think more about their habits and their needs. There’s rarely a better chance to reassess what you do everyday and how you do it than when one of the tools you use undergoes a transformation. I like the sound of “mobility centers.” We’ve been stuck in the same old ideas about transit (public and private) for so long, caught between the twin poles of rigidity on the public end vs maximum flexibility on the private end (at a huge, unsustainable cost). This could be a chance to open up our options, build on ideas like car/bike share, ride sharing & pooling, small targeted services, and whatever creative ideas entrepreneurs can make work. (We’re supposed to be good at that, right?)

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    IanO July 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Wow, surprised to see all the EV hate in this forum! As a bike commuter wouldn’t you rather be stuck behind an EV than a normal gas or diesel car spewing fumes in your face?

    As the recently completed Automotive X Prize has shown, electric vehicles are inherently more efficient than liquid fueled vehicles. The EVs in the competition were achieving from 120 to 200 MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent) whereas the gas, ethanol, and diesel vehicles were struggling to stay in the range of 50 to 100 MPGe.

    Also, folks forget that EV charging is mostly done at night, using up otherwise wasted base load. And in the hydroelectric powered Pacific Northwest, that makes even more sense.

    I’d also like to shout out to our local EV industry. Arcimoto in Eugene, Oregon is working on a two-seater prototype EV called the Pulse which would boost Oregon’s economy and give us a homegrown EV option!

    Jonathan, I’d buy a “Bicyclists for Electric Vehicles” sticker from you if you made them.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Malex @ #8
    a quick Google search for produced this: http://www.paulchefurka.ca/Electric%20Cars%20and%20CO2.html

    167 to 224 g/km or an Internal Combustion Engine vehicle, vs. 135 to 200 g/km for a pure Electric Vehicle: it’s not an encouraging comparison. Given the imprecision of the underlying data they can be viewed as essentially equal.

    We need a 90% reduction in the burning of all fossil fuels across the board. This is not a solution.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    ‘EV hate’ is not exactly accurate. Using language like that suggests you don’t think there’s anything to talk about. I think there’s a lot to talk about. When electric cars are promoted as a solution to our environmental or transport problems I think it is worth examining to what extent this claim holds up to scrutiny.

    I’m not criticizing an individual who has or buys an electric car and charges it with their renewable electricity plan, but that isn’t what is being contemplated/advocated here, which is a broad transition to electric vehicles. *That* will only exacerbate our current problems, further solidify the belief/hope that technical tweaks to our way of life will suffice, will get us through.

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    IanO July 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    With an electric vehicle, at least there is the *option* to use renewables. There is no such option with gas vehicles. Thus, I see EV adoption as a step in the right direction, along with other transportation infrastructure improvements like mass transit and improved bicycle right of way.

    Also folks tend to forget all the energy required to prospect, extract, transport, and refine gasoline when doing these comparisons.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    “With an electric vehicle, at least there is the *option* to use renewables.”

    Therein lies the chief fallacy. That option appears to exist for individuals, but even that is only sort of true because the amount of renewable power generated is pretty much fixed and already spoken for. But the option to use renewables to power a fleet of EVs does not exist for society as a whole. There is no prospect for producing that much electricity from renewables. Especially since in the near future we’re going to need every renewably generated kilowatt hour to run our computers, lights, hair dryers, etc. Adding in a gigantic new transport-related demand for electricity to our grid, even if they charge at night, is crazy. We’re still building fossil fuel power plants the world over to deal with growth in electricity consumption without factoring in the electric car.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Solar electricity is great, though expensive and still rare. But using it for purposes that we can do without is absurd. Just consider the photovoltaic installation in the right of way at the 1-205/1-5 interchange. Much ballyhooed, it produces enough electricity to power a quarter of the LIGHTING in that location.
    Why not turn off the lights and pipe the electricity somewhere where it can accomplish something useful, something we can’t so easily do without?

    Electric cars seem like a great idea, but like the lighting at this interchange they are a luxury we may discover we can ill afford.

    http://www.rebuildingamericasinfrastructure.com/magazine-article-rai-may-2010-solar_highways-7856.html

    “By all measures, the 104-kilowatt solar array located at a freeway interchange 15 miles south of Portland is a success.”
    “Since going live in late 2008, the panels have provided 112,000 kWh of annual power production, which is 28 percent of the interchange’s total power use.
    While 28 percent is a start, it’s a long way from the more than 47 million kWh of electricity needed every year to run Oregon’s signals, illumination, buildings, ramp metering, and more.”

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    Chris July 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Wow, I’m impressed with the “EV criticisms” here too. I’ve had my Nissan Leaf reservation in since April 20th and just the other day received an email stating that I’ll be able to work with my dealer to place the order in September.

    I’ve been “car-free” since February 2009, however my Zipcar expenses have definitely proven to me that it still makes sense to have a car. What doesn’t make sense is to own an internal combustion engine vehicle.

    Right now, your traditional car is costing you about $0.13 per mile. A 100% electric car will cost about $0.025 per mile. Also, even if your traditional car is just sitting in the driveway most days, you still need to perform regular maintenance about every 3 months. The Nissan Leaf’s maintenance plan involves checking the window washer fluid and rotating the tires every 6 months.

    For some people an electric car won’t be an appropriate choice, but then again a bicycle isn’t necessarily the best choice for some people too.

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    pdxebiker July 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Robbie Diamond, the president of the Electrification Coalition, recently presented to the Portland City Club on this topic. The audio recording can be found here:

    http://pdxcityclub.org/content/road-electric-vehicles

    It’s kind of long (30min), but a very interesting listen.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    If it must be a car then I’d put my money on wood-powered cars. Fairly common in Germany in the forties, and our own Dept. of Energy funded research into this in the 1970s. Wood gasification keeps the fuel and the pollution local.
    In Europe you can choose to run your car on Kompogas, or methane derived from landfill gas, composting facilities, or dairies. Also not a bad option–though we’d probably want to think carefully before committing too much of our firewood or biomethane to transportation given the competing demands for both fuels.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    a wood-burning Cadillac:
    http://www.woodgas.com/history4.htm

    a wood-burning motorcycle:
    http://www.woodgas.com/history6.htm

    for more, see: http://www.woodgas.com/history.htm

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    jon July 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    re 9watts:
    It does not take but a couple of moments to find the data on the internet that explains that oregon gets well over 60% of its electricity from hydro and other renewable sources. For this state electric vehicles are great from a CO2 and smog causing pollution standpoint. For the USA as a whole the mix is much heavier in favor of coal and natural gas.
    -jon

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    AD July 29, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Hydropower is not without its victims: http://www.cnr.uidaho.edu/uiferl/Adult%20Salmon.htm. It requires quite a bit of mitigation to attempt to keep salmon from further declines caused in part by damns blocking their natural migratory routes (and yes, declines are caused by other factors as well such as pollution and habitat degradation).

    I don’t know that chopping down trees to run cars is a great idea either.

    It is just important for people to keep in mind that although electric cars may be “cleaner” running they still require power–electricity unfortunately does not come clean and pure from fairyland. So far we have not found the perfect solution to power our other electrical devices without major impacts on the environment. Do we need to add cars to the electricity-guzzling mix, too?

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    Velophile in Exile July 29, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    There seems to be a lot of ignorance and misinformation here about what EVs have to offer.

    First, even if they are charged using coal-generated electricity, emissions are much lower with EVs. And that includes GHGs. 9watts, since you are so good at using google, you ought to be able to find these data.

    Second, if we make buildings (homes and commercial buildings) energy self-sufficient in the US through use of solar PV (and some wind) for electricity, direct solar (crystals) for lighting, solar thermal for water heating, and a variety of energy efficiency technologies — and this is easily feasible in 10 years, BTW — then we can use the building-based renewables to charge the EVs at night (off-peak) for use during the day.

    Third, this statement is utterly false: “[T]the amount of renewable power generated is … already spoken for.
    ….[T]he option to use renewables to power a fleet of EVs does not exist for society as a whole [because renewable generation capacity does not exist].”

    It’s so wrong it is difficult to know where to start.

    But, for example, the USGS estimates that current geothermal technology could supply up to additional 39,000MW in the US. That’s more than enough to keep up with load growth, especially if we impliment much-needed conservation measures.

    Another example is how much we could build out wind with even modest investments in the grid and kinetic energy storage technology. 9watts, google AWEA and you will see how much wind generation capacity we have yet to build in the US.

    I detailed solar above. Literally every roof is a few kws.

    Modest investments in wave technology would make that commercially viable within 10 years.

    EVs are not *the* solution, but they would be a big part of a comprehensive energy policy that incorporated distributed generation, conservation, and feed-in tariffs and other incentives for renewables.

    And FYI, hydro (as it exists on the Columbia and elsewhere currently) is not a “renewable energy” resource within the meaning of Oregon and Washington law.

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    q`Tzal July 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Time for refutation of “EV haters”.
    Let me just start by framing a premise: automobiles are not going away.
    I’ll frame that in two basic ways:
    1) from the City of Copenhagen’s “Bicycle Account 2008.pdf” the mode share is 4% walking, 37% cycling (yeah!), 28% bus & train and 31% car. Even in the bastion of cycling nirvana that Portland strives to emulate there still are LOTS of cars.
    2) Yes, if there is some economically apocalyptic reduction in available oil then cars use will reduced drastically. Then it will be only the rich/entitled driving around in their status symbols.

    “EV hater” argument point #1 “EV’s are just as dirty as gas powered cars”
    Please see Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles which answers the redistribution of pollution question. In this study performed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) they find :
    Researchers drew the following conclusions from the modeling exercises:
    ()Annual and cumulative GHG emissions are reduced significantly across each of the
    nine scenario combinations.
    ()Annual GHG emissions reductions were significant in every scenario combination of
    the study, reaching a maximum reduction of 612 million metric tons in 2050 (High
    PHEV fleet penetration, Low electric sector CO2 intensity case).
    ()Cumulative GHG emissions reductions from 2010 to 2050 can range from 3.4 to
    10.3 billion metric tons.
    ()Each region of the country will yield reductions in GHG emissions.

    “EV hater” argument point #2 “Ninja EV cars sneak up on the blind and KILL!!!”
    Well I did read one a site today that a blind child was hit recently, “CNN – Boy Hit By Hybrid Car”, there seems to be a lot of spin and hype on this front; how about real data of actual crashes?
    The NHTSA‘s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) own Fatality Reporting System shows data tells the opposite of the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) has been stating: that there has been a steady decline in these injuries.
    Please see this article “Sounds For Silent EVs, More Data, Same Result: Not Needed?“.
    There are two PDF articles of import that GreenCarReports references but leaves the reader to find: the 5 page analysis that the article references and the NHTSA’s “Quieter Cars and the Safety Of Blind Pedestrians: Phase I” which is a 151 page long VERY thorough study on audible detectability of vehicle types in differing ambient sound levels.
    While there is a sensible reason to believe that because EV’s at low speeds are difficult to detect by sound alone that some sort of additional noise needs to be made by said autos it is not reasonable to point to a nonexistent rash of blind pedestrians being killed or injured by electric vehicles when it can be shown in the government data that the rate of deaths and injuries have been on the decline until now.
    This can of course change. All vehicles could magically be replaced by silent electric vehicles; drivers will still be just as inattentive and aggressive as before.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I’m glad we agree on some things Mr. Velophile (conservation, feed in tariffs, the need for comprehensive energy policies) but on the prospects of actually installing the renewables you totted up we could hardly be further apart. I’m not talking about paper and pencil exercises but what would be involved financially, infrastructurally, politically, materially to carry out what you (and I suspect EV proponents) have in mind.

    Let’s not forget that what you are proposing is fantastically expensive.
    And we’re not talking about keeping up with load growth either. My concern is that the task of *phasing out* fossil fuels in the electricity sector is quite enough of a challenge for the next decade or two without adding the extra burden of powering a fleet of cars via the same grid.

    Below are some recent estimates out of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs of what might be involved in switching 33% of the Western States’ current electricity consumption to renewables. It looks like about $170 billion. Let me emphasize that this is only 1/3 of current electricity consumption. This doesn’t begin to account for the additional load that EVs would represent.

    In principle you may be correct about the opportunities for expanding our reliance on renewables, but in practice, we have neither the money, resources, time, or the inclination to go down this road. This kind of infrastructure can’t be rolled out overnight. By the time we get our act together (if we were to follow your advice), the fossil fuels to build all those panels, turbines, transmission towers and lines, mine all the materials, refine and transport them, etc. are going to be even more expensive, and we may at that point decide we’d rather use them to transport food or maintain our existing infrastructure…. Or we may realize that we can, after all, learn to get around by bike just fine once we discover the insurmountable challenges associated with switching our fleet over to electric vehicles.

    …..
    We are pleased to announce that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory today released a new report: “Exploration of Resource and Transmission Expansion Decisions in the Western Renewable Energy Zone Initiative.” This report examines, at a screening-level, the sensitivity of renewable resource selection, transmission expansion, and renewable supply costs in meeting aggressive Western renewable energy targets to different assumptions and policy decisions. The report evaluates these decisions under a number of alternative future scenarios centered on meeting 33% of the electrical load of Western states with new renewable resources located within resource hubs identified in the Western Renewable Energy Zone (WREZ) Initiative.

    The primary goal of the analysis was to identify the important assumptions and factors that should be evaluated in more detailed resource and transmission planning forums. The report demonstrates how the economic screening tools developed in the WREZ Initiative can be used to inform questions regarding which WREZ resources might be procured by Western loads, what transmission expansion would be required, and which factors contribute to the costs of meeting aggressive renewable energy targets.

    Some of the key findings from the analysis, all of which are detailed in the study, include:

    • Increasing renewable energy demands increase costs, as less economically attractive resources are required to meet higher targets
    • Wind energy is found to be the largest contributor to meeting WECC-wide renewable energy demands when only resources from the WREZ resource hubs are considered
    • Hydropower, biomass, and geothermal contributions do not change significantly with increasing renewable demand or changes to key assumptions
    • Key uncertainties can shift the balance between wind and solar in the renewable resource portfolio
    • The costs of meeting renewable energy targets within the West are heterogeneous without Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
    • Transmission investment costs are substantial at $17-34 billion, but represent only 10-19% of the total renewable supply cost required to meet a 33% target
    • Long transmission lines can be economically justified in particular cases, but the majority of transmission lines are found to be relatively short
    • Transmission expansion needs and overall costs can be reduced through the use of RECs, equating to an average savings of as much as $6/MWh of renewable generation
    The report can be downloaded from:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-3077e.pdf

    A PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key findings can be found at:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-3077e-ppt.pdf

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    q`Tzal July 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Ok, the costs, monetary and resource-wise, are great for a large to complete switch to electric vehicles. No denying it.
    One of the arguments against electric vehicle charging infrastructure is that it has to be built. “Gas stations already exist; let’s just keep using them.”

    I agree with most everything that has been said above about the high costs and resources involved in implementing an Electric Vehicle System except the bit about it being insurmountable.

    Installing and implementing a system of gasoline fueling stations in the year 1905 must have seemed insurmountable but 105 years later we have a massive infrastructure that requires tanker ships from all over the world to transport billions of gallons of a known toxin and carcinogen to our ports. A system that requires polluting refineries, leaking pipelines, fuel tanker trucks moving fuel (using said fuel) from depots to fueling stations. A system that then requires the end user to add a 3rd otherwise unneeded destination so as to facilitate the continued operation of the vehicle.
    Every refinery, fuel depot, crude and oil transfer point will likely be easily classified as a Super Fund site when they are finally shut down.

    While it is undeniable that supplying electricity to a large fleet of vehicles will indeed increase pollution that increase will be offset by a much larger decrease in the energy used by the petroleum transport industry as demand decreases.

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    Jon July 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    9watts:
    You are citing information about all of Pacificorp and the use of coal. Pacificorp, is a multi-state power company with operations in coal heavy states like Utah Wyoming and Idaho. In Oregon (PGE, Pacific Power, and many other PUDs) the mix was 69% hydro, 20% natural gas, 8% coal, and 3% renewables in 2005 according to the DOE. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/electricity.cfm/state=OR.
    Thus for Oregon, electric vehicles are a great deal for CO2 and smog causing pollution. Hydro has issues (just ask the salmon), but overall it is hard to beat for air quality and it is renewable.
    -Jon

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    Red Five July 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Where is all this electricity coming from? We’re breaching dams and people always complain about windmills blocking their view and killing birds.

    Out of sight, out of mind makes electric cars okay?

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    q`Tzal July 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    #28 Red Five

    Out of sight, out of mind makes electric cars okay?

    Out of sight, out of mind makes petroleum industry pollution okay?

    There is NO way to make an oil based energy system completely clean.

    Electric based energy systems can be made orders of magnitude cleaner than oil.

    Bird Kills at wind turbines:
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: conclusionIt is calculated that bird-strike due to a wide range of man-made structures is responsible for the deaths of many millions of birds world-wide.
    US Forest Service – Research & Development: A summary and comparison of bird mortality from anthropogenic causes with an emphasis on collisions. Of interest is Table 2 (Summary of predicted annual avian mortality)on page 11. Just the top three are :
    Buildings 550 million 58.2 percent
    Power lines 130 million 13.7 percent
    Cats 100 million 10.6 percent

    Near the bottom:
    Wind turbines 28.5 thousand <0.01 percent.

    Next unsubstantiated concern please.

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    9watts July 29, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Jon,
    The figures at the link you posted are for generation within the state, which in our case diverges dramatically from the fuel mix of the power consumed within the state. Oregon’s electricity mix (consumption not generation) in 2005 was 41% coal, 10% natural gas, 3% nuclear, 42% hydro, with the remaining 4% consisting of wind, geothermal, & biomass, according to http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/docs/EnergyPlan07-09.pdf?ga=t

    And since you didn’t like my Pacificorp figures I dug a little deeper. For Oregon specifically it’s worse than for their overall fuel mix: (present) sales to electricity customers in Oregon are 67.5% coal, 17.6% natural gas, 10% hydro.
    http://www.pacificpower.net/ya/po/otou/fsei.html

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    resopmok July 30, 2010 at 2:00 am

    We can argue about the merits of energy sources, their levels of pollution, other environmental effects, and how they are distributed and consumed until we are blue in the face. At the end of the day, nothing is free, and any form of power has real costs of some kind, at least until ITER is reality. I think a fundamental misunderstanding within our society leads to the idea that we can somehow find a magic bullet to maintain the outlandish standards of living our credit cards have made us accustomed to. We cannot simply continue to throw our resources into the toilet with wasteful expenditures of energy. I don’t care if it’s powered by cow farts or uranium, we should be using that energy to heat our homes when it’s 40 degrees out instead of toting our briefcase to work in a half-ton vehicle the size of a dumpster.

    EVs solve nothing and reinforce a mentality which is detrimental to our economic, social and environmental futures. Cake is delicious, but you get fat and die of a heart attack if you eat it all day, every day.

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    q'Tzal July 30, 2010 at 8:54 am

    How about a published author?
    Pasted unabashedly from Wikipedia:

    Thomas L. Friedman, of Hot, Flat and Crowded writes that the needed green revolution of the title would be more ambitious than any project so far undertaken: It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; and it will change everything from transportation to the utilities industry. This project is described in terms of nation-building The book alleges we’ve gone from the “Cold War Era” to the “Energy-Climate Era”, marked by five major problems: growing demand for scarcer supplies, massive transfer of wealth to petrodictators, disruptive climate change, poor have-nots falling behind, and an accelerating oss of biodiversity. A green strategy is not simply about generating electric power, it is a new way of generating national power.

    Ultimately we can talk until we are blue in the face but the solution is not to do nothing but to do something; as the author proposes we might need to do everything all at once.
    Electric vehicles solve a very small piece of an increasingly interconnected problem but they DO solve that problem.

    Perhaps the problem is not the science nor the scientists but the talking heads; TV & radio infotainment journo-hacks and politicians who know nothing of what they speak and yet attempt to denigrate validated accpect science to legitamize their policy of doing nothing.
    Why do we elect these people if they will do nothing?
    Why bother to even have a goverment if they want to do nothing?

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    She July 30, 2010 at 9:49 am

    While I mostly ride my bike, my family has one electric car that my husband drives most days and as a result we have reduced the use of a ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle by 75% or more. We are signed on to green power. Unfortunately, we are not in a good sun exposure place for solar (we have explored it and will continue to explore it).

    I would much rather ride behind our electric vehicle than a ICE vehicle.

    We have less oil to change and change it much less often in our little NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle).

    We can put 4-5 people in the vehicle if we need to, and have for family outings.

    It is a step toward less dependence on a car.

    Ours need no infrastructure change, we had a plug in our garage already.

    We like our funny little car!

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    She July 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Oh yeah, my dear sister-in-law has the same electric car that is completely powered by a solar panel on the house (with excess running her meter backwards).

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    Velophile in Exile July 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    “Let’s not forget that what you are proposing is fantastically expensive.”

    So is our military.

    If we can afford two simultaneous wars to maintain the free flow of fossil fuels required for the current transportation system and indeed the entire USeconomy, then we can afford to invest in EVs.

    Such an investment now would be substantially less expensive than the long term costs of:

    -future wars necessary to maintin the flow of fossil fuels to the US

    -not mitigating the economic effects of global warming

    -waiting until the fossil fuels run out and risking economic collapse (i.e., peak oil is here!).

    Indeed, *not* spending money to transform the transportation fuel infrastructure and move toward energy self-sufficiency is the more expensive option.

    It is difficult for most people to see that, however, because most of the costs of coal mining and oil extraction are negative externalities that artificially lower the current price of these commodities and push them off for the public to pay in the future in the form of cleaning up environmental devestation and figuring out how to maintain the economy once the fossil fuels can no longer be used for transportation.

    EVs and renewables aren’t just the best way forward, they’re the only way.

    Too bad our politicians are *all* elected with money from the people who profit from continuing to use fossil fuels.

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    9watts July 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Human power, energy conservation, and renewables are a pretty good way forward.

    Didn’t we do that for, oh, 500,000 years?

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    q'Tzal July 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    The big push will effiency in ALL energy use.
    To help your nightmares go look up Dept of Defense publications on what they predict our next big conflict will be: resourse wars. Not little ones and not ones where we pretend we are there to stop some bad behavior.
    And the Pentagon’s recommendations sound very Green and predictions run toward envio-apocalyptic.
    Cut our need to be there,
    Cut our need to associate and trade with,
    Cut our dependencies on them,
    Then there is no reason to be there.
    That save tax dollars and lives that can be spent at home.

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    jim July 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    What a joke. The Chevy Volt only goes 40 miles on a charge, They cost a heck of a lot, They need heavy govt. subsidies so it is not good for the national debt. They won’t let us build a port for LNG that we need to make electricity. Just another one of Sams bad ideas

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    Bill Stites July 31, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Maybe I missed it, but I’d like to point out that the energy consumed by any vehicle is largely a function of its weight.

    If we endeavor to replace most fossil-fueled cars with electric cars that still weigh 2000+ lbs., there will be huge energy consumption … in the obvious form of electricity. Indeed, we may see rolling blackouts sooner rather than later.

    I happen to feel that the combination of human+electric power will yield great efficiencies … provided vehicle weights are comparable or LESS THAN cargo weights.

    Think ANT.

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    wsbob July 31, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I think a lot of Americans were enthusiastically awaiting retail availability of the Chevy Volt, even though Chevrolet hedged on what the price would be.

    Then, as the release date drew closer this year, the car failed to appear at the Portland Auto Show, disappointing a lot of people that were interested in seeing it. Then, published in the NY Times this week, there’s this depressing story about the car to read:

    Op-Ed Contributor
    G.M.’s Electric Lemon By EDWARD NIEDERMEYER
    Published: July 29, 2010

    Looks like Toyota has nothing to worry about in terms of competition from the volt.

    “…They won’t let us build a port for LNG that we need to make electricity. …” jim

    Hey jim…what I’ve heard people say(I believe in comments a few weeks back over on blueoregon), is that the LNG port proposed for Oregon, was primarily intended for the purpose of rerouting LNG from Oregon to California for that states’ energy needs…not Oregon’s.

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    9watts August 1, 2010 at 8:01 am

    wsbob –
    thanks for posting that link. A quote from the NYT op-ed:
    “Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat. Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants, and you’ve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt. ”

    That kind of money could buy a lot of useful infrastructure that would support human powered transport solutions. I wonder how many trailers, racks, panniers, rain gear, lights, etc. the local bike industry spread out across this country could make for that kind of money. And I bet after we’d equipped everyone (and yes, I mean just about everyone. I know there are those who are physically unable to ride a bike, but if you’ve been to other countries you know that many old people ride bikes every day, so age is not per se an excuse to dismiss biking-as-transport)with these niceties (for free even with all that taxpayer money…) we’d probably have a few billion $ left over to put toward covered bike storage at places of work.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    EVfan August 23, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Sorry guys. You can push your bicycle agenda all day, and more power to you, but my current 40 miles a day (also the national average) with trips to child care isn’t going to happen on a bicycle.

    More bicyclists should be happy that the potential for a cleaner air while riding the street is almost upon us.

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    wsbob August 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    EVfan …how many trips of how long each, account for that 40 current miles?

    If for example, a person lives 4 miles from destinations they must travel to multiple times a day, this is something some of them may be able to accomplish with a bicycle for at least some of those trips, and if not a pedal powered bike, an electric assist powered bike. Cars, even enclosed ‘car-like’ EV’s can be nice, and even essential for some trip situations, but they aren’t necessarily the end all.

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    EVfan August 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    @wsbob 20 miles out, 20 miles back. I could easily do the commute via bicycle but on a daily basis? With a kid in tow? No thanks.

    Bicycles, even “electrical-assist” bicycles can be nice, but they aren’t necessarily the end all.

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    9watts August 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Sorry about your commute, EVfan. that doesn’t sound like much fun. Those kinds of commutes along with the internal combustion private auto are going to go the way of the Dodo bird in our lifetimes. So we should be careful how much we rely on situations like this to plan our future transport infrastructure.

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