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Front Page News

SBU Working to Build A Market For Plug-In Hybrids

Sturgeon Bay Utilities (SBU) has joined Plug-In Partners, a national campaign urging automakers to accelerate development of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Public power utilities such as SBU are leading the effort to demonstrate that a market exists for PHEV technology.

PHEV’s combine today’s gas-electric hybrid technology with larger batteries that could provide an all-electric operating range of 25 to 35 miles or more. Plug-ins could be recharged by plugging into a standard wall socket. The result: a vehicle that gets up to 80+ miles per gallon, with even greater fuel economy possible through the use of bio-fuels.

“Sturgeon Bay Utilities is committed to promoting energy efficiency and conservation,” said Jim Stawicki, General Manager. “We believe that the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is an important emerging technology with great benefits for our environment and our economy.”

Since 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of their jobs, drivers of PHEV’s would need to fill up with gasoline as rarely as a few times a year, versus the current 24 to 36 times a year on average. In comparison with current gas prices soaring to well over $3.00 per gallon in Wisconsin, an “electric” gallon of energy would cost less than $1.00.

“Along with reducing fuel costs for consumers and businesses, this technology would decrease dependency on foreign oil and significantly reduce automobile emissions,” says Jim Stawicki. “Air pollution is easier to manage at a central point such as a power plant, rather than from millions of vehicle tail pipes.”

As an added environmental benefit, no additional power plants would be needed to support the use of PHEV technology because charging occurs at night when consumption is lowest. Furthermore, when electricity is produced by renewable energy such as hydropower or wind, PHEV users would be using pollution-free energy to deliver pollution-free transportation.

There currently are no commercially produced PHEV’s; however, prototypes and after-market modifications to existing hybrid vehicles have proven their practicality. The Electric Power Research Institute and DaimlerChrysler have built a Dodge Sprinter PHEV delivery van and plan to test 30 of the vehicles in cities across America by the end of 2006. Other companies, such as Electro Energy of Danbury, Conn. and EDrive Systems of Los Angeles, have demonstrated retrofits of existing Toyota Prius hybrids.

Community members wishing to voice support for the development of PHEV technology can sign an online petition at the Plug-In Partners web site, www.pluginpartners.com.

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