By Joel Greenberg
With every major automotive manufacturer announcing an electric vehicle, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to debut in the next 2-5 years, it’s clear that these vehicles are poised to compete in the mass market. But how did we get here? Where do we need to go to make this happen? Is the grid ready?p=.
Roger Duncan, General Manager of Austin Energy, discusses these issues from the point of view of the person responsible for delivering electricity to these vehicles.
Austin At The Forefront
Why does Austin Energy seem to be leader in renewable energy and more efficient energy use? Says Duncan, “We have a city government that’s very progressive and interested in this; they own their own utility—Austin Energy is owned by the City Government, so we don’t have to deal with the same regulatory structure that many other electric utilities do.”
But what’s even more interesting is that, “In Texas, we’re not connected to the federal electric grid and have more independence,” says Duncan. Texas’ grid is managed by ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas; it’s not connected to what’s known as the Eastern Interconnection or the Western Interconnection, which are the grids that cover most of the rest of the United States. (See map here).
Couple that with a major university, The University of Texas at Austin, “With all of those together, we’re maybe able to develop and test out new technologies faster than most places in the country,” says Duncan.