Local, state and federal agencies, under mandates to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their vehicle fleets, are increasingly considering a switch to cars and trucks that rely on battery power. But because much of the nation’s electricity is generated by coal, many agencies are left to wonder whether the move to battery power will yield major cuts in pollution—or potentially even make emissions worse.
“Your vehicle is only as clean as your electricity,” says Reid (Rusty) Heffner, PhD, a Booz Allen Hamilton transportation engineer who works on a team of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles experts. “In regions where power comes mainly from coal, plug-in vehicles are often not the best choice to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
That thorny issue is one of several that are gaining in importance with the expected arrival late next year of commercial “grid-connected,” or plug-in, vehicles that are either hybrids or all-electric.
President Obama has called for one million grid-connected vehicles to be on the road by 2015, and Booz Allen is playing a major role in helping local, state and federal agencies do their part.