From the state of New York via Green Car Congress, Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno announced Tuesday that New York will commit $10 million to the conversion of state vehicles to plug-in hybrids, as well as the funding of an alternative fuels research center.
The $10 million plug-in hybrids program will facilitate the development and deployment of these advanced, high-mileage vehicles, which can achieve a fuel economy of up to 100 miles per gallon. Under this program, the 600 hybrid vehicles in the State fleet will be retrofitted to be plug-in hybrids. Once the StateÂs hybrid vehicles have been converted to plug-in hybrids, the program will be made available to private vehicle owners through a competitive process.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles can be plugged into the electric grid – such as a normal 120 volt household outlet – to boost mileage. This will allow the vehicles to operate on emissions-free battery power, reducing the amount of fuel utilized and significantly decreasing the release of harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Since the utility grid has lower demand during overnight hours, the recharging of plug-ins would not add to the peak load.
The New York State Alternative Fuel Vehicle Research Laboratory, the first of its kind in the nation, will develop scientific data to formulate new programs to conserve energy, diversify our energy supplies, decrease our dependence on imported fuels, and protect our environment. The facility will conduct testing for advanced and emerging technologies such as fuel cell propulsion systems, alternative fuels, and greenhouse gas reduction technologies. Special focus will be on test systems to quantify all emissions from diesel buses and trucks, which will help to develop advanced control and retrofit technologies for these vehicles.
I think it’s great that New York icommitteded to researching alternative fuels, but, right now, I think plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars may be the best bet we have for creating much more sustainable transportation (I owe that to the discussions I’ve participated in –or at least listened to — on theWatt podcast). Right now, I still like plug-ins the best because they not only greatly reduce, or in some cases eliminate, the burning of gasoline on short trips, but also because they can also provide power to the grid (seems to me that this wouldn’t make sense with a fully battery-run car). I’m also glad to see that the Empire State is continuing to take innovative steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and in providing evidence to automakers that much more efficient cars do have a market in the US.