This is the California Cars Initiative's UNOFFICIAL transcript of the Plug-In Partners Press Conference held in Washington DC on January 24, 2006. CalCars' goal in producing this is to promulgate as broadly as possible what was said at this historic event. We haven't seen as good and current a presentation of the benefits of PHEVs and of the scope of the campaign anywhere else. It includes a transcript of the preliminary video that premiered at the press conference.
Because this has been prepared as rapidly as possible, by volunteers, before you quote from it we urge you to check the authoritative source: the streaming video webcast of the 82-minute long event, found at Plug-In Partners or ConnectLive,which will be available until January 2007. For your convenience in doing so, the text includes time-stamps that are keyed to that webcast.
Participants in order of their appearance:
Rogan Duncan, Deputy General Manager, Austin Energy
Will Wynn, Mayor, Austin, Texas
Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary for New York Governor George Pataki for Energy and Environment
James Woolsey, Former CIA Director and Founder, Set America Free
Frank Gaffney, President, Center for National Security Policy
Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy
Alan Richardson, President & CEO, American Public Power Association
Dr. Joseph Romm, Founder & Executive Director, Center for Energy and Climate Solutions
Dr. Andy Frank, University of California-Davis, Expert on Plug-in Hybrids
Orrin Hatch, Senator (R), Utah
[Roger Duncan, Deputy General Manager, Austin Energy]
I want to thank everyone for coming this morning, and welcome you to the kick-off event for the Plug-In Partners campaign. I want to also welcome those of you who are watching by the webcast this morning. We are going to move through the agenda rather quickly this morning, but before I start, I would like to make a couple of introductions. The Plug-In Partners campaign is an initiative of the city of Austin, Texas, and I would like to start by introducing some of our officials here from the city of Austin.
I'd like to start with City Council Member Jennifer Kim: Ms. Kim, thank you for being here. [applause] And we also have with us this morning Austin City Manager Toby Futrell. [applause] And the General Manager of Austin Energy, Juan Garza. [applause]
You have before you the agenda for this press conference. We will open with the Mayor of Austin in just a moment. As we move through the agenda, I also wanted to let you know ahead of time that we're hopeful that Senator Hatch will be here at about 10:15 or so. At that time, he will speak and answer questions to the media, immediately after his talk, and then we will finish with the press event. At the end of the speakers I will moderate questions and answers, and at that time we'll also have microphones for the reporters to ask their questions.
So I would like to go ahead and start the event. As I said, the Plug-In Partners Campaign is an initiative of the City of Austin, and to start it off, I'd like to introduce The Honorable Will Wynn, Mayor, City of Austin.
[Will Wynn] [2:00]
Thanks, Roger, and good morning -- thank you all very much for being here. Today marks the beginning of an unprecedented national grassroots campaign. It's a movement that says, "We have a problem -- a serious problem." And it's a serious problem that's not being addressed. Actually, three problems:
Number one -- an over-dependence on foreign oil. It's a serious threat to the well-being of our country right now, and it's an even greater threat to our future. Two -- automobile emissions, that are fueling smog in our cities and that are a large source of greenhouse gasses that are warming our planet. And three -- fuel costs, that are ratcheting up and resettling at levels higher and higher, hurting everyone, right now, every day. When it takes thirty, forty, even fifty dollars to fill up your tank, and really only good for just a few days of commuting. Right now, escalating fuel costs are driving up the price of everything -- goods and services -- things that we buy and use and that our economy depends on.
So we're here today to kick off a nationwide grassroots campaign called "Plug-In Partners," bringing together local governments, businesses, cities, organizations, and community groups from across the entire country, to say to the automakers, "Americans understand the problem, and Americans will deal with the problem. If you will build plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Americans will buy them." And we will demonstrate that that market exists through this year-long campaign.
The Plug-In Partners Campaign consists of four key components. Number one, a pledge of support, through a letter or resolution, from a participating entity, like the City of Austin (and we'll list several others later). [Two] A citizens petition drive -- signatures -- again, demonstrating that demand. [Three] Soft fleet orders, or expressions of interest, from businesses, governments, organizations, to in fact purchase these plug-in vehicles when they become available. And number four, incentives, at the community level, to help citizens and businesses purchase these plug-in hybrids as they first roll off the assembly lines. In Austin, Texas alone, we now have already collected eleven thousand signatures. We have compiled soft fleet orders for nearly 600 vehicles -- many of those from our private sector. And we have set aside $1,000,000 for rebates and incentives. And our goal now is to replicate this effort in cities and local areas all across this country.
The campaign actually only starts today, but it's already been joined by major cities, such as San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Baltimore. Congratulations and my thanks for the leadership of Mayors Newsom, Hickenlooper, Nickels, Villaraigosa, and O'Malley. And there are many, many more on the way. You're probably aware that tomorrow we kick off our annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting here in D.C. -- there's probably 300 of 1,000 member Mayors in attendance. I chair the Energy Committee, and we will be presenting this campaign, as well as others, as best practices for many, many more local jurisdictions to become aware of.
We've already been joined by over 100 local power utilities -- the City of Austin happens to own our municipally-owned utility, Austin Energy. We're a proud member of the American Public Power Association, and now 100 of those utilities have joined in the program. And it's also been joined by major environmental and National Security interest groups across the country.
So today marks our invitation to the entire country: let's join together, and let's get something done. Something that will benefit each and every one of us, but more importantly, will benefit America. Let's demonstrate that a market for these flexible-fuel plug-in hybrids exists. Again, let's get something done -- thank you all for being here this morning, and I think we're going to roll a video.
[7:45 Audio track: NOTE: this is a preliminary version of a video that may be further edited before release]
[Edward Kjaer, Director of Electric Transportation, Southern California Edison] "If you look at the transportation mix in the United States today, about 40+ percent of greenhouse gases come from transportation, over 70 percent of the emissions come from transportation, and transportation is 99% dependent on one source of fuel, and that's petroleum."
[Rebecca Gurrich, motorist, filling up at a station] "Oh yeah, there's a huge difference. It used to cost about $15, and now it's $37.64 to fill it up, so, now I'm thinking of getting rid of this car."
[Kjaer] "So what we have is this global march to consumer more oil, and 60% of our oil is now imported. So we are vulnerable to the vagaries of the oil market."
[Professor Andrew A. Frank, Mechanical Engineering, University of California] "The gasoline station behind me says 'Now selling gasoline for a minimum of $2.30/gallon, and premium at $2.50/gallon', and it could be running on electricity an equivalent of 70 cents/gallon. So why are we all driving these cars?"
[Frank Gaffney, Energy Security Policy] "I'm reasonably sure that when the price of gas spikes and they have sticker shock filling up their gas tanks, they know there's a problem. I'm not sure they understand how serious it is from a national security stand point of view."
[Bob Graham, Program Manager, Electric Transportation, Electric Power Research Institute] "We have got to eliminate our dependency on foreign oil, and switching to electricity makes that happen."
[Felix Kramer, founder, CalCars.org] "People want to drive cars that have higher miles per gallon. They want to go to gas stations less often. They want quieter cars. And plug-in hybrids deliver all of those things."
[Kjaer] "Well, the plug-in hybrid is 95% the same car as the engine hybrid you see today. It's basically the same motors, controllers, and inverters, but instead of what's called a power battery -- a small power battery -- you put in a slightly larger energy battery, and you have an on-board charger, and you have a plug!"
[Narrator] "The electric motors of a plug-in can integrate into combustion engines, that can run on a variety of biofuels, that can dramatically improve fuel economy."
[Kjaer] "If you have twenty to forty miles of all-electric range, five days a week you may never turn your internal combustion engine on. You're basically a battery-electric car. And that sixth or seventh day, if you want to go from Austin to Houston, or you want to go from Los Angeles to San Diego, those first twenty or forty miles, you're an electric car, and then for the other 250 miles, you're a hybrid car that gets good gas mileage. And isn't that what we all want?"
[Narrator] "Here at the University of California at Davis, engineers are building a prototype of a plug-in electric hybrid -- one that could be built on existing auto-assembly lines."
[Frank] "Now this car is a Chevrolet Suburban, and we've converted it into a 60-mile all-electric range plug-in hybrid."
[Mark Duvall, EPRI Senior Project Manager] "With hybrid vehicle technologies, you can design a very powerful car that also gets very good fuel economy. And with plug-in hybrids, you can even take the most powerful car -- you can have a plug-in hybrid Corvette..."
[Kjaer] "So this product here is a pre-production, plug-in hybrid Sprinter Van from DaimlerChrysler. We're just starting to evaluate this vehicle for our own fleet."
[Jordan Smith, Lead Engineer, Southern California Edison] "It's like a conventional Sprinter vehicle -- about the only difference is that this vehicle has a small switch that allows you to drive in electric-only mode."
[Narrator] "Electric-powered vehicles have been a part of Southern California Edison's fleet for more than a decade. Their confidence in electric-powered vehicles is in part due to the fact that they have years of data that shows the technology works."
[Kjaer] "In fact, in our fleet of electric vehicles -- we have about 200, 220 vehicles -- and we've done over two million EV miles with our fleet of vehicles. And we have not had any battery problems at all. In fact, we've had several vehicles that have gone over 100,000 miles on the original battery packs."
[Duvall] "The fact that you can buy a hybrid vehicle today -- a Toyota Prius or a Ford Escape or a Honda hybrid vehicle indicates that those batteries are extremely robust and extremely durable. It's a very small step and requires really no new technology to make those batteries and those systems full plug-in hybrid vehicles. And that technology is only going to improve."
[Frank] "What we have here is the batteries from the old car. This battery is about 15 years old and it's Metal Hydride
[NiMH], and it's still good, but it's older technology. What we have here, what CK has in his hand, is the new Lithium Battery, which has the same capacity as the old battery, but is much smaller and half the weight. We put the batteries in the car underneath the floor. Every bit of interior space that was in this car is still there."
[Zwi Ling, UC Davis Hybrid Center] "Basically, what that means is that the larger or more higher energy density these batteries have, the more electricity gets stored in them over night and hence it increases the all-electric range that they can operate on without using gasoline."
[Narrator] "And more energy means that even the largest vehicles, such as this utility bucket truck, or commercial vehicles, can operate electrically. And if plug-in technology works for these vehicles, it will certainly power America's fleet of SUVs."
[Kjaer] "An internal combustion engine will go into a gas station about 50 times a year -- about once a week. But with a plug-in hybrid, you may go to a gas station only five or ten times a year. That's a heck of a lot better."
[Narrator] "The success of the gasoline powered hybrid shows that Americans will support these new technologies, even if they cost more. But the question remains -- will the large manufacturers build them?"
[Frank] "You know, if we, a bunch of college students, can put this thing together, and they can run as good as the Toyota Prius, what could the car companies do? Ha!"
[Kramer] "In 1942, after Pearl Harbor, this whole auto industry turned itself around in less than a year. They went from building cars and trucks to building tanks and planes -- in less than a year. And we can do that again. We may have to do that again, if we have a disruption in our oil supply."
[Graham] "I'm concerned about the automotive industry, and I think plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could give them a competitive advantage."
[Narrator] "If Americans adopted plug-in vehicles, would it have a net decrease in greenhouse gases? After all, power plants have to use fuel to create the electricity that charges the vehicles."
[Duvall] "The most polluted areas are near the transportation corridors, where the vehicles are putting out the emissions. So by removing the emissions from an urban area, and moving them out to the power plants, you can actually remove those emissions from a very polluted urban area and then control them better out at the power plant."
[Kjaerl] "We're seeing today more and more renewables. Renewables connected to transportation is a very attractive solution."
[Narrator] Plug-ins become even more attractive when you take into account that the batteries are charged at night, when most utility companies have excess capacity."
[Kjaer] "So you could connect millions of units of transportation to the grid across this country before you'd have to build one new power plant."
[Narrator] "So today, a movement begins. A coalition of communities, businesses, utilities, and non-profits have joined together as "Plug-in Partners," to demonstrate that a market exists for flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrid vehicles."
[Will Wynn, Mayor, City of Austin, Texas] "We're going to help create the market for plug-in hybrids -- both with our orders and the incentives for individual consumers to place advance purchase orders... we're going to create the demand."
[Kjaer] "We can't wait another 20, 30, 40 years to act -- we need to act now."
[Kramer]"I can think of no better way to ensure the future of this country than to get off oil."
[Gaffney] "The kind of campaign that we're talking about here has the potential to really be a catalyst for more concerted and certainly long overdue action."
[End of video]
[Roger Duncan] [16:21]
As Mayor Wynn has indicated, there are many partners that have joined us in this campaign. We'd like to start this morning with our first partner, Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary to Governor George Pataki of New York, for Energy and the Environment. Charles...
Good morning everyone. I just want to than the Press Club and Plug-In Partners Campaign for having me down here to talk about some of the things that Governor Pataki is trying to do to reduce New York's dependence on petroleum, and imported petroleum in particular.
New York has the most efficient transportation system in the country. On a per capita basis, more people use mass transit in New York than in any other state. But even though that's the case, our transportation system is still 95% dependent on petroleum -- and the vast majority of that is imported over a long and tenuous supply chain that we all know too well can be subject to interference by people who would like to do harm to us. That means that every loaf of bread, every kid that's on their way to school, and every ambulance is dependent on a supply chain that is [susceptible] to interruption, and that is an economic imperative and an environmental imperative and a security imperative that we begin to do something about it.
A week ago today, Governor Pataki introduced his Executive Budget for 2006. The budget proposal includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives and 50 million dollars in direct capital spending, intended to diversify New York's fuel supply and make our motor vehicles more efficient. It included grant programs for private-sector gas stations to allow those stations to install renewable fuel pumps -- so that folks who are driving and stop in their neighborhood gas station can have a choice between petroleum or a renewable fuel made right here in New York or right here in the United States. It includes tax incentives so that all renewable fuels are completely tax-free in New York. It also includes a proposal so that renewable fuel pumps will be available at every rest stop on the New York State through-way. And finally on the renewable fuels side, it includes a $20 million program to build a cellulosic ethanol facility to create the first pilot-plant (we hope) that will produce ethanol from woody biomass as opposed to corn, and thereby drastically raising the energy balance of the ethanol.
But I think for today's discussion, most importantly it focuses very much on vehicle efficiency, and actually trying to get out and show people that these things can be done -- much like the video we just saw. I just want to reiterate, the technologies that we're talking about are largely available today. With a few small improvements, particularly in battery technology, we have right around the corner the ability for drivers to drive past the gas station and say I'd rather purchase a renewable fuel, or I'd rather run my vehicle on electricity, or -- best of both worlds -- I'd rather do both. And that allows the market to work and it gives consumers a choice, and it gives consumers the ability to choose an American product and stop sending all of our energy dollars overseas to places where people will use it in some cases to hurt us.
The Governor's budget proposal includes specifically ten million dollars to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the purpose of actually getting out and deploying plug-in hybrid flexible fuel vehicles. We're going to work with private sector companies -- hopefully bring them to New York -- to deploy these vehicles, and we're going to do so in conjunction with a new Advanced Vehicle Technology Laboratory that small companies can use to try to get their vehicles on the road towards certification. Our hope is that in the very near future, to deploy a hybrid flex-fuel vehicle, and then very soon thereafter to start deploying hybrid flex-fuel plug-in vehicles.
We also have a ten million dollar proposal within this budget for the sole purpose of R&D on specific niche technologies that are critical to bringing about this new reality that we're working for. Folks mentioned the batteries and other pieces -- very light-weight vehicle parts. And again the New York Energy Research and Development Authority is going to be a leader out there, trying to incentivize the private sector to try to bring about the kind of vehicle technologies that we all know we need, and we need to get out there and show everyone that this can be done. Once we do it, it's going to be impossible for people to say that these things can't be done. And again, as the Mayor indicated, we need to give the consumers the power to show the automobile manufacturers and others that these technologies are desired in the marketplace, and let's hope they'll sell them once that happens.
So, the key thing for us is to obviously get our budget proposals through, but once we do that, we think that his presents an opportunity to turn the twin challenges of energy dependence and climate change into an economic opportunity -- for New York, and hopefully for the American people to stop sending all of our energy dollars overseas, recapture them, build new technologies, and then export those technologies around the world as people try to reduce their own dependence and fight climate change.
So, thank you very much.
The next partner we'd like to introduce in this effort is Mr. James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, currently with Booz Allen Hamilton. Mr. Woolsey...
[Jim Woolsey] [21:45]
Thank you, Roger, I was honored to be invited to be on this distinguished panel this morning, but to tell you the truth, since I spent 22 years as a Washington lawyer, and then I spent some time at the CIA in the Clinton Administration, I'm actually pretty well-honored to be invited into any polite company, for any purposes whatsoever.
The first question in a lot of people's minds about this campaign is "What's new? You know, we had oil dependence problems in the '70s, we started the Synfuels Corporation -- too expensive, went bankrupt; now people are again concerned about fuel dependence & oil dependence... aren't we kind of just going through the same cycle again?"
Three things are different, I think, from the 19'70s. First of all, the vulnerability of our oil infrastructure is extraordinarily greater -- close to double. We were coming close to 33% of imports of oil in the 19'70s, and people were getting very worried about that, and now we're well over 50%, and the oil infrastructure -- whereas it was vulnerable in the 19'70s to cutoffs, such as a coup in Saudi Arabia that was attempted in 1979, or a policy decision by a Middle Eastern State -- today it's vulnerable to, say, Al Qaeda flying a hi-jacked aircraft into the sulfur-clearing towers near Ras Tanura in Northeastern Saudi Arabia and taking, say, four to six million barrels a day offline, just like that, and throwing oil up to well over $100/barrel. We also, uniquely in this war on terrorism and Islamist Terror in the Middle East, are paying for both sides of the war. This is the only war the United States has ever fought in which we pay for both sides.
We pay for our side, and then we pay -- we borrow -- 250 billion dollars, approximately, per year, to import oil -- about a billion dollars every working day. Much of it goes in IOUs, indirectly, to these countries in the Middle East, and they use it -- particularly Saudi Arabia through the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia -- use it to, in part, run madrasas in Pakistan, institutes in various parts of the world, to teach a form of Islam, they say, that is fanatically hostile to Shiite Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Jews, Christians, women, democracy, music... that is essentially the same ideology as Al Qaida. The only thing that the Wahhabis and Al Qaeda disagree about is the same thing that the Stalinists and the Trotskyites disagreed about in the 1930s -- who should be in charge. But the underlying, hate-filled ideology is one that we pay for -- its dissemination -- every time we pull up to the pump.
So, in the immortal words of Pogo, we've met the enemy and he is us. If you want to know who's paying for those madrasas in Pakistan to teach hatred and propensity to terrorism, next time you pull in and fill up, just look in the mirror.
Now... that's new -- that set of issues is new. The second thing that's new is that this time around, the people who are promoting plug-in hybrids -- Andy, his wonderful work at Cal Davis for years -- have it right, with respect to the infrastructure. A lot of the changes that were going to be made in the 19'70s required huge changes in the energy infrastructure of the country. That's the problem with hydrogen now. If I were to leave you with six words to remember from what I'm saying here, with respect to any of the values that we've been talking in -the importance of moving away from oil and so forth ... Forget Hydrogen. Forget Hydrogen. Forget Hydrogen.
Massive changes in the energy infrastructure and in the transportation vehicle infrastructure would be necessary; whereas for a plug-in hybrid, we need a bigger battery and, yes, there is an infrastructure investment: an extension cord... each family would need an extension cord.
So, the focus on minimal changes to the infrastructure is something that has been thought through, now -- a lot better than it had been in the '70s when people started things like the Synfuels Corporation.
The third thing is the interaction, I think, with the environment -- because, at the same time one is moving to plug-in hybrids and using existing electricity capacity -- not building new power plants, as the videos say -- but using existing electrical capacity, one is therefore limiting the expulsion of greenhouse gasses, the emission of greenhouse gasses, helping the environment. One is helping with poor countries such as Bangladesh, that their major barrier to development is the huge debt that they have to carry -- the reason most countries have to carry debt is because they can't pay for 60-70 dollar-a-barrel or certainly more expensive oil with commodities, textiles, and what they have to export. One is helping the rural parts of the United States, where synfuels such as cellulosic ethanol can be grown for purposes of moving toward flexible fuel vehicles -- hybrids as well as plug-in hybrids. One is, I think, talking about lack of dependence on a very volatile part of the world as I mentioned, and you will find, interestingly, and increasingly in days to come, more public statements about this -- Evangelical groups are starting to show real interest in this area, and taking some stands as they say, 'We missed.. the-- some of their spokesman) 'We missed backing the civil rights revolution as soon as Martin Luther King said what he said. We should have been in that, and now we're going to be here, helping with respect to global warming and we're going to do it now because we want to be good stewards of God's creation.
I call this a coalition between the tree-huggers, the do-gooders, the sod-busters, the chief hawks, and the evangelicals. Once you have a coalition of that diversity and that size, the politicians -- believe me -- will notice.
Thank you, Jim. Our next speaker and partner in this effort is Frank Gaffney. Frank is the founder and President of the Center for Security Policy.
[Frank Gaffney] [28:45]
Thank you Roger. My job is to be the act follower to Jim Woolsey, which is always a tough one, especially since much of what he said, I would say as well. There are three other things, I think, that he didn't mention. There are also new [concerns] that add further to the national security imperative behind this initiative.
One is that virtually every place we get oil from is either unstable, politically, or downright hostile to us. Jim has mentioned of course Saudi Arabia -- and its at the top of the list, as far as I'm concerned, in terms of places that are hostile to us upon whom we are dependent. But you go through the rest of the roster and it isn't much prettier. Iran is much in the news of late -- who knows where that's going to go. Nigeria, Venezuela, even Mexico, all places where we're seeing trends, if not very strong direction, that is very hostile to us, and compounding the problem of our dependency.
The second is the emergence of new competitors for those energy supplies -- notably Communist China, and not far behind, India -- with burgeoning demands and a willingness to make deals with all of the aforementioned countries to take any oil that we can't or won't.
And then finally, there's the problem that I'm not expert enough to give a firm answer to, but I think it's in prospect if it's not already here, and that is peak oil.
You put all of these things together, and it's transparently obvious that the way we've been doing business as a country is no longer tenable. It's not tenable from an economic point of view, and it most especially is no longer tenable from a national security point of view.
Consequently, at the risk of shameless self-promotion, I'm going to advertise a book that we've done on this subject, called War Footing -- Ten Steps America must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World, and I do so in part because Jim has been kind enough to give us a forward for it. My friend Gal Luft is one of the contributors to the step that talks about energy security, and the necessity to be moving in the direction that, with Gal's leadership, we've called Set America Free -- at the core of which is the idea of utilizing existing technologies (as Jim has talked about and others will to): notably, combined hybrid and plug-in and recharging options, greatly to diminish the amount of oil that we consume in the place that we consume most of it and most inefficiently -- namely, in our transportation sector.
So, we're very pleased to be part of this coalition, and very excited about the leadership that is coming from below and very hopeful that as Jim has said, politicians from the top will take notice, and I call on President Bush -- right here, right now -- to make this initiative part and parcel of this year's State of the Union Address and at the top of his agenda, and that of the Congress in 2006.
Thank you very much.
[Roger Duncan] [32:47]
Thank you, Frank. As Jim pointed out, an important part of this coalition is what he called the "Tree-Huggers", and I'm comfortable with that label. But an important representative today of the environmental community, I'd like to introduce Kateri Callahan, the President of the Alliance to Save Energy.
[Kateri Callahan] [33:06]
Thank you, and I'm proud to be referred to as a tree-hugger, and a nut-eater and whatever other thing you want to sling this way.
Thank you for having me here today. I'd like to begin by congratulating the City of Austin and Austin Energy on this innovative partnership, which we are very proud to be a part of: a partnership to drive and develop a market for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It's very important -- I've worked with the auto industry for many years, and they have a mantra: We build what customers want...
Well if they'd been listening over the last couple of years, they'd know that customers today want and are interested in hybrid electric vehicles. And with this partnership, the customers of tomorrow will be demanding very soon -- tomorrow -- plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. And I would say to anyone that would doubt that the City of Austin and Austin Energy have the power and capability and the commitment to do this, to look at their history and their track record. The Alliance to Save Energy was pleased to give them an award in 2003 for -- since 1982, the city and Austin Energy have been investing 15 million dollars a year in energy efficiency, and what have they gotten for that commitment and that investment? They have reduced energy use by the equivalent of a 500MW power plant annually. So they will do what they say they will do and we're pleased to be a part of it.
From the perspective of the Alliance to Save Energy, what they are doing is very important, because we believe that the cheapest, quickest, and the cleanest way to improve and reduce energy use in the transportation sector is by improving fuel economy and that's something that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can do in spades.
We have a conundrum that we look at. In this country, we have two percent of the world's population, we have only five percent of the world's oil reserves, and yet we are gobbling up 25% of the oil that the world consumes every day. That's simply not sustainable.
So, significantly lowering energy use in the transportation sector -- which is the main culprit for our oil dependence -- is very important. Plug-In hybrids, with a 20-mile range, are projected to cut petroleum use by as much as 60% and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. And as we move into plug-in hybrids using renewable fuels, that situation only gets better. Greenhouse gasses are reduced even more, as it petroleum use.
Right now, and it's been said in the slides and other places, that the transportation sector is 97% dependent on oil and for practical applications, Jim Woolsey said "Don't think Hydrogen, don't think Hydrogen." But if you want to think it, it's still decades away, no matter how you cut it.
So, looking at PHEVs, what we see as an organization that promotes energy efficiency, is a very practical, very real, very here-today technology. It's immediate, it can help us reduce petroleum use, improve the environmental performance of our vehicles and importantly, it represents at a minimum, a bridge technology and perhaps even the final technology of a sustainable transportation of the future.
Thank you. We're pleased to be part of this.
[Roger Duncan] [36:35]
Thank you, Kateri. Mayor Wynn mentioned, and others before, the utility industry is obviously a very important part of this coalition. We are proud members of the American Public Power Association in Austin, and we're proud to see public power leading the way again to solve the energy problems of this country.
So it's my pleasure to introduce Alan Richardson, the President and CEO of the American Public Power Association.
[Alan Richardson] [37:00]
Thank you, Roger. It's my pleasure to be here. I'm Alan Richardson, the President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, representing the interests of more than 2,000 publicly-owned, locally-controlled electric utilities around the country. Mayor, it's a real pleasure to have Austin Energy in the lead on this, a public-power community and a wonderful city. And Juan, council Member, Roger Duncan... you've got some terrific talent there to lead this effort, a truly outstanding grassroots effort.
It's sort of to the point where almost everything's been said, just not everybody has had a chance to say them. So I'm not just going to reiterate the arguments that people have made, but I will say that the case for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be boiled down into short-hand that people understand: energy security, vulnerability to foreign sources of oil, greenhouse gas emissions, the environment, economic security. People understand those arguments almost intuitively, and when you say there is one answer that addresses each of these issues and it's plug-in hybrid electric vehicles... they get it. And the proof of that is the fact that 140 -- I heard they're up to 140 now -- publicly-owned electric utilities around the country in 33 states, and these are not just general managers who sign off on a little "I want to be part of the Plug-In Hybrid program" -- these managers take their participation to their own city councils or their own boards of directors and educate them and then sign on to a campaign like this. And 140 is just the tip -- Mayor, we're going to keep pushing.
But that is really evidence that this is a grassroots campaign that has momentum that will be sustained, and I'm convinced for the reasons we're already hearing this morning, will be successful, so thank you again for your leadership. It is my pleasure to be hear with you this morning.
[Roger Duncan] [39:00]
Our last couple of presentations speak to some of the technical aspects of the plug-in hybrid, particularly answering some of the questions that have been raised in the discussion. I'd like to start with Dr. Joseph Romm, with the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions.
[Joseph Romm] [39:17]
Thanks, I'd really like to thank the City of Austin and Austin Energy for their foresight and tireless work putting this coalition together, and I'd like to thank Jim for apparently having read my book on Hydrogen.
People are always asking me what is the green car of the future. I did run the Department of Energy program responsible for all clean car research, development, demonstration and deployment, and I can safely say that the flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is the most environmentally desirable and practical alternative fuel vehicle yet conceived. It sharply reduces urban air pollution and greenhouse gasses.
Plug-in hybrids running on electricity will reduce urban air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide 90% or more compared to the average new car running on gasoline. And even better, none of the pollutants are emitted from the tailpipe -- so they don't aggravate urban smog. Those of you who have heard me speak before know that I think that the issue of the century is global warming, and the good news is that plug-ins will also sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to existing cars. This is already true for the current U.S. electric grid, which is half-coal, and the cleaner the grid gets in the future, the better plug-ins will do.
I think it's worth noting that even running on pure coal-electricty, a plug-in hybrid electric today would have much lower emissions of greenhouse gasses than the average new car today running on gasoline, and about the same emissions as a regular hybrid. I think it's worth saying that if all the power plants built in the future are coal, then plug-ins would do nothing to address global warming. But then again, if all power plants built in the future are coal, then our climate is in big trouble.
And I think this is an important point -- there is no pure techno-fix to global warming. There's no automotive technology that will solve the problem without government policy. So if you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you need to cap those emissions -- that's what all the previous EPA administrators said earlier this month.
But once you have a cap on utility emissions, then you shift emissions from a difficult-to-regulate sector -- 250 million cars -- to an easy-to-regulate sector -- a few hundred large power plants. And at that point, plug-ins go from being a good idea to being the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
And I think one final point is worth making: we are using more and more unconventional oil. 'Unconventional' is almost a code-word for dirty... such as the Canadian tar sands -- as you saw the 60 Minutes special -- which increase the total greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline substantially.
People are even talking about turning coal into liquid fuel, which is a climate nightmare. Yet not only will electricity get cleaner over time, so will biofuels, as we shift from more corn ethanol to ethanol made from crop waste and dedicated energy crops.
And the good news is that even running a plug-in hybrid on 100% renewable electricity, the fueling cost per mile is still substantially lower than running a regular car on gasoline at current gasoline prices, let along what gasoline prices are going to be in the next ten to twenty years.
For all these reasons, just to repeat: the flexible-fuel plug-in electric hybrid is the most environmentally desirable and practical alternative-fuel vehicle yet conceived. That is why they are inevitable winners in the marketplace over the next several years, and that is why I am pleased to support this campaign.
[Roger Duncan] [43:09]
I've received word that Senator Hatch is on his way. We would like to end our regularly scheduled speakers with a great honor -- to introduce to you Dr. Andy Frank. Dr. Frank is the professor at the University of California at Davis, and widely regarded as the inventor of plug-in hybrids. Dr Frank...
Dr. Andy Frank
Well, I don't know if I'm the inventor but I've probably been working on it longer than anybody, anyone that's still alive.
I want to thank Austin Energy, I've been working on this a long, long time. I've been trying to promote it myself but one person just doesn't... It's like the guy tilting windmills. But Roger and the people in Texas have really brought this thing to the forefront to national attention and I'd really like to thank Roger and everybody for that.
And of course we've heard all about the global warming stuff. My job here is to answer any possible technical questions you may have. I've been working on this for a long long time. The car companies have always said that it can't be done, batteries are going to cost to much and so on and so forth.
We've done very careful analysis and studies and we show that's not true. Fundamentally these kinds of plug-in hybrids are equivalent to a sunroof and your navigation system, maybe your leather seats. So, it's doable now. It's not infrastructure that requires massive investment and the average consumer is not going to pay that much more for his car.
The most important, when he goes to the gas pump, he's only going a few times a year as the video pointed out, but more than that, when he's plugging in at home he's using energy at the equivalent of .70 cents a gallon. It's been a long long time since we've seen that kind of price for fuel.
So, plug-in hybrids have all the advantages of emissions, green house gases, low fuel costs, so why aren't we doing it? It's a matter of getting the car companies, and that's the main purpose here, getting the car companies, getting the public to demand these kinds of cars. We've shown over and over again these kinds of cars that the technology is available, we can do it. If me and a bunch of students can build cars, the car companies can certainly do it and do a much better job.
So, I welcome everybody here and I'll be happy to answer any questions, technical or otherwise for you later.
We'd like to open a question and answer period for the press at this point. When Senator Hatch arrives then we will interrupt that for his words. We have two members here with microphones and would ask the press to please take a microphone so we can get the questions on record. Questions please.
"What do you attribute the reluctance or resistance of the auto companies to?"
FRANK: Well, the car companies are like a gigantic battleship, it doesn't turn very fast. It's taken me 30 years of badgering them that this kind of technology exists, and I think I've got them moving, maybe a quarter of an inch.
However, the real motivation for the car companies is the public and as I think Kateri said, they say over and over again, we'll build whatever the public wants. And they've had a campaign, fundamentally, to kind of not talk about the plug-in hybrid and I think the most important thing from this conference today is to get the word out that these things are available and the public can have them if they just ask for it.
WOOLSEY: I don't think the answer is a simple one. I recommend to you a movie that premiered last night at Sundance titled "Who Killed the Electric Car?". There has been a long duel over this issue including the mandate in California and the withdrawal of the mandate in 2001 for electric vehicles. But I think what has happened is that the resolution of the '70s and the prosperity of the '80s and '90s gave rise to a certain lack of incentive on the part of the manufacturers to respond to what I think most of them should have known is a clear long term problem about oil.
I mean this country has a propensity for winning a contest or war of some sort and then saying, hey it's party time. I mean in the '80s and '90s in a lot of ways with respect to oil energy we were partying. I mean oil went down to well below $10 dollars a barrel in the '80s when the Saudi's turned up their production. And people really didn't focus on this issue. The regulatory scheme, the way the Caffe standards worked in exclusion of light trucks and so forth, inclined there were economic incentives, strong economic incentives to buy big SUVs and things like Hummers. And when you add to that the fact that a lot of Americans, I confess I drive a Prius now, but back in the early '80s when I was coaching my kids baseball team and driving boy scouts around and so forth, I needed a big car, I had a Chevy Suburban, and we had often a dozen kids in the back. A lot of people need big vehicles, so when you add those things together, we as a nation, it's not just Detroit have essentially been asleep at the switch until the combination I think of 9/11 and the high oil prices of the relatively recent months, have begun to wake some people up.
I really hope that people will put, in Detroit, will put side by side, these announcement of plant closings and lost American jobs, the opening of foreign owned plants, in the country, of companies that are making energy efficient vehicles. Look at some of the things we've been talking about here this morning and think, you know, I wonder if working together with the government, getting together the right incentives, loan guarantees and so forth, it might be possible to save the American automobile industry by doing and end run around gradual steps and moving smartly and sharply toward plug-in hybrids, flexible fuel vehicles, nothing I'd like to see more.
GAFFNEY: I just had one other point. A more interesting question in a way is why are some of the car companies that are making hybrids today not making them plug-in hybrids? And as doubtless people in this room know better than I, some of the people that have been conversions have started with conversions from Prius I think based on the fact that that option has in fact been built into the car, it's just not marketed that way here. To the contrary it's marketed in this country as a car you don't have to plug in!
So that tells you something, I think, that the car company sees it's in their interest not to make it a plug-in hybrid when they could. This coalition I hope will make it clear that's the wrong incentive, they need to turn this thing around.
WOOLSEY: Are we making energy policy a subsidiary of an advertising campaign.
I would like to interrupt these question and answer now. It's our great honor to introduce as our partner in this effort the United States Senator from Utah, the honorable Orrin Hatch.
[Orrin Hatch] [52:25]
I'm very honored to be here with you today, And you can tell how important this is to me, because we just opened up the Alito markup, so I did my opening remarks and I scooted out of there and I've got to get right back.
But I want to thank Mayor Will Wynn of Austin, Austin Energy and of course the Plug-In Partners Coalition for holding this important event today, and for asking me to say a few words.
As you know I was the author of the CLEAR ACT which was included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law this summer and currently being implemented by the administration. The CLEAR ACT stands for Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies Act. It provides attractive tax credits to consumers who purchase alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, including battery, electric and hybrid cars. This new law also provides tax incentives for new alternative fuel stations and for the use of alternative fuels in vehicles.
As with most tax incentives, the credits will sunset after a few years and they may not be available by the time a commercial plug-in hybrid is available to consumers. However, in the meantime CLEAR ACT credits will promote these advanced technologies necessary to make plug-in hybrids commercially viable as they are being used and perfected in our current hybrid cars on the road today.
Six years ago when I joined with environmental groups and auto makers to write the CLEAR ACT, we strongly believed that hybrids were an important answer to our nation's energy problems and to our nation's environmental problems, and we've been proven right. Today, I believe the next big step forward in our nation's energy strategy will be to develop commercially viable plug-in hybrids.
We have proven that battery/electric vehicles are technologically feasible and that hybrid electric vehicles are very marketable. Never forget when they decided to change the HOV 2 law to allow a single driver during busy traffic times, all the hybrid cars sold out almost overnight. And it shows that incentives, there are plenty of incentives for people to buy hybrids. And can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have plug-in hybrids.
By combining the popularity of hybrid electric vehicles with the added environmental and energy benefits of the battery-electric technology, we may very well be able to produce a silver bullet for our nation's transportation and environmental needs.
Let's not forget that two thirds of all of our oil is consumed in the transportation sector. To improve our nation's energy has to be one of our prime goals. But to improve our nation's energy security and air quality we have to focus on these type of solutions. So I add my voice to those you've already heard today. I believe it is in our nation's interest to promote the accelerated development of commercially available plug-in hybrids.
The world demand for energy is well above the world's supply and it's getting to be a higher demand every day. With the advent of China, India and other countries that are rapidly becoming very powerful.
I might add that new oil discoveries are dropping dramatically as well. While we have even more pressure. The world is headed for an energy crunch and we need the equivalent of the space race to find solutions if we hope to avoid a global disaster.
In terms of the transportation-energy supply problem I believe that no solution hold more short term promise than plug-in hybrids. In my view it should be the policy of this nation to become the world leader in the development of this important technology. And I pledge my support and I lend my support to this goal. I think you've got an idea of how important I consider this press conference to be, and how much I admire the city of Austin for leading out and making the case that we really have to do something about our energy and environmental problems in this country. And plug-in hybrids is one of the best short term solutions to those problems that I know of and I'm just grateful to have all these good people here today at this press conference. Thank you so much.
QUESTIONS (continued) [57:16]
We will now return to the question and answer period. The Senator has to return to the hearings, and before I go to the next question Mayor Wynn indicated that he also wanted to respond to the last question about the auto makers.
WYNN: Thank you Roger, I'll just say that briefly and quickly that the fundamental purpose of the Plug-In Partners Program is simply to demonstrate the consumer demand. And we believe firmly that with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of soft fleet orders, demonstrating that consumer demand, the automobile makers can then respond and speak for themselves.
[Question] Dr. Frank, can you talk about the Amperage capacity that is necessary to refill these batteries at any rate that might be comparable to a gas engine and existing infrastructure.
FRANK: I've done this study a long long time and our cars that we're building today use 110 volt GFI-protected outlets in your garage already and that's all you need for a conventional car up to about 4,000 pounds.
Our new car, a Chevrolet Equinox, will be plugged in at 110 volts overnight and that will be enough energy to drive that thing 60 miles. Not only that, in the day time you can plug it into the solar cell and get another 60 miles coming back. So, all this kind of technology is available today. When you go to a big SUV you might want to go to 220 but that's available in your house as well.
So, there is no new infrastructure needed in every American home. Now, some people say well yeah, but I live in an apartment house. Well that's when you get the extension cord out.
ROGER: Andy you just mentioned the solar cells. My Mayor just reminded me that our goal in Austin is to replace Middle Eastern oil with West Texas Wind, where we have a lot of it.
I think, especially living here in an urban area, I think about those who live in high rise buildings that don't have easy access to a plug. I think that a lot of people do, however in densely populated areas, is there sort of a general strategic guideline for that type of environment?
CALLAHAN: I would just mention that I drove battery-electric vehicles for a long time and now drive a hybrid and if people are commuting to work for example, there can be plug in opportunities that can be built in. My garage had it, it's something that if you're parking in a garage that opportunity charging could be provided there. But I would also remind you that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles do not have to be plugged-in, you can go on the gas only, so it's a very flexible option that one could have.
WOOLSEY: If you look at the website, www.CalCars.org where you can follow a lot of the material on [plug-in] hybrids, I think they are saying approximately 50 miles a gallon on Prius plug-in with lets say 9 kilowatt hours, Andy correct me if I'm wrong, about 6 times the battery capacity of the current Prius. Then you are getting essentially 125 to 150 miles a gallon of petroleum, so you between double and triple your petroleum based mileage by substituting electricity that goes for well under a dollar a gallon equivalent. But if you are only driving it 50 miles a gallon because you don't have enough extension cord, you're still able to drive it 50 miles a gallon.
A variety of the panelists have offered that the government, executive branch, need to do something to act as well and I was wondering if two or three of you had wish lists, top three things for example that you'd like the Senate, House, Executive branch to do what would you say those are?
GAFFNEY: Could I offer one, I mentioned Set America Free. Two versions of basically the same legislation have been introduced on the Senate and House sides that I think answer your question.
They address, sponsored by Senator Lieberman, Senator Brownback, Senator Sessions in the Senate and Congressman Jack Kingston, Elliot Engel and Jim Saxton in the House. I think focus in three generic areas: one is to ramp up considerably as we've heard here, the production of biofuels, ethanol-based fuels as well as helping encourage secondly, the vehicles that will allow electricity to be the transportation fuel and then thirdly relatively low cost, I think it's fair to say it's not zero cost but it's almost negligible cost of adapting the infrastructure to enable ethanol and methanol to be pumped through existing gas pumps at gas stations.
I think those are the three main thrusts I would focus on. And I'm pleased as I said that there's leadership coming out of these members on a bipartisan basis, bicameral basis. The thing that is missing so far is the President's leadership and I'm hoping that will be forth coming very soon.
WYNN: The city of Austin, one of the four components of our partnership, the fourth part is incentives, and we and the city of Austin have a relatively modest budget in the scheme of things, our council approved unanimously a million dollar set aside for incentives. Perhaps in theory one thousand dollars a car for one thousand vehicles, for instance.
We hear how Governor Pataki now essentially, and that's a local based, community based incentive program. Governor Pataki has taken that a step further obviously with the State of New York's wherewithal and we believe that the Federal Government could follow likewise but our fundamental goal with the Plug-In Partners at the local level is to demonstrate this remarkable consumer demand across the country, have many, many partners, governments, utilities stepping in, likely brings incentives back to the forefront and then as the Federal government sees that breadth of both the consumer demand and then the ability politically for folks at the local level to up incentives and makes these more cost effective quicker, then I think the Federal government can then take action and leap forward dramatically.
CALLAHAN: I would like to add that I think from the Alliance To Save Energy's perspective it would be a two pronged federal approach. First of all we would say that we have to establish a minimum level of efficiency that we will tolerate in all our vehicles. Set a floor, if you will. We need to raise the Cafe standards that can be done with a number of different approaches, from closing current loopholes in the program to simply putting in a straight raise or to moving to something like a fee-bate program, but set a floor and say, "as a country and for the following reasons: energy, security, environment and the economy, we will not tolerate vehicles that do not get this level of fuel efficiency." And then you push the technology forward on the other end with incentives that the mayor has mentioned, tax incentives that Senator Hatch mentioned, opening HOV lanes to these technologies, and another big incentive is the federal government as an early adopter of the technology, joining in this Plug-In Partner campaign and getting their own garages and their facilities PHEV ready for plug-in and buying the product and stepping up and helping to create the demand. So it really is two floors. We'll set a minimum of what we'll tolerate out of the transportation sector and then we set a ceiling that we hope to burst right through with incentives.
What I'm hearing here doesn't seem to make sense to me because what you're talking about is a technology that you say is almost ready and it sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. You mention that Detroit is on the ropes, closing factories, laying off people. The American public is demanding cars that stretch their consumer dollar longer, so why isn't the effort here, on the part of all of you, to do what has always been done in the United States when people have a bright idea that could potentially make billions of dollars, which is to put your own money where your mouth is or at least go out to investors, try to persuade them that your idea is a good idea, form your own company and beat the pants off of Detroit if Detroit doesn't get it if in fact this is a good idea.
Instead what you're doing is organizing a political coalition to make Washington change the marketplace. And I really don't understand that logic at all. I would like someone to explain it to me.
ROMM: Let me take a couple pieces of that. First of all I don't think that is what this coalition is about, and Roger, after I make some comments you can certainly comment. The purpose of this coalition is not to get, we would Washington to make it possible for us to be sailing downwind instead of upwind but this is really about creating demand. But let me just say that I would ask you to name the last time a new US car company was successfully formed in the United States. I doubt you could do it. It's probably been longer than anyone in this room has been alive. It is an exceedingly hard thing to do A. B, just imagine trying to raise venture capital to demonstrate that a product is viable, and once you do, the car companies would then wipe you out. In fact it is virtually impossible to raise venture capital for this precise venture and I would urge you to call up various people.
This is, let's not be unclear here. There is virtually nothing harder to do than to get people to drive alternative fuel vehicles. We have tried for three decades now and it's really hard to do.
The nice thing about plug-ins, and this is something that Jim alluded to, is that you don't, the single biggest barrier to all alternative fuel vehicles has been the infrastructure issue. How do you get fuel providers that are already making plenty of money selling you gasoline to make a substantial investment in an infrastructure that at best will compete with the product the already make money on, and at worst they will lose all their money. And that's why they never do it. That's the chicken and egg problem, never been solved, I will just categorically state "never seen a solution", I doubt it ever will be solved.
The beauty of the plug-in hybrid is that your car is parked 23 hours a day within 10 feet of an electric outlet. And once plug-ins start to take off, you can ask the utilities at the table, I'm sure that they will provide that last ten feet to those that don't have it. So, one shouldn't underestimate how difficult this is to do, but this is the vehicle that's going to win and it would be nice if the federal government helped. But I'm not certain that it's critical that the federal government help more than it is… what this coalition is doing, showing that the demand is there.
FOX: I think that what we're doing in New York, in response to your question is exactly what you suggested. And that is to use government to try to incentivize the private sector to take on the issue as an investment proposition. I met on Friday with every major investment house in New York to talk about these very issues and suggest to them that they get involved. They suggested that tax incentives, guaranteed purchasing programs like Austin is doing, and many of the issues we're talking about are going to start driving private investment toward it. But the point Joe was making is that it's a very risky proposition to put your own money into a niche technology when there is a behemoth industry there that can simply take that and take away your investments. So I think it's a combination of factors, both trying to incentivize the private sector to take on the issue but at the same time trying to persuade the existing business in the oil and automotive sector to take on the issue for their own good and our own good.
WOOLSEY: Your question has the implication that currently there's a perfectly free and un-incentivized by the government market in transportation and that this group wants to somehow interfere with that. Makes me think you might be from the Kato Institute. I have arguments with people at Kato about this all the time. That doesn't happen to be the case. Boyden Gray and Bud McFarlane, and Frank and I had a long exchange in the Wall Street Journal some months ago, with people from Kato on this point. Today for example Brazilian ethanol pays a 57 cent a gallon duty when it comes into the United States. Oil from Saudi Arabia pays none. As Boyden puts it the completion allowance has worked very well over that last half century to a century for the United States, we've depleted our oil very effectively.
The market for transportation in the United States is heavily incentivized in the direction of oil consumption. So, if the premise of your question were, could we have a level playing field and would something like this succeed in a level playing field I think the answer is yes. In a level playing field it would succeed pretty fast. But that is not what we have. So if one wants in practical terms to get some of these technologies like cellulosic ethanol and diesel from agricultural waste and a plug-in hybrid and so forth moving, one has to in terms of political reality, rather than focusing on something that has no chance of succeeding, like an oil tax or a gasoline tax, one has to look toward leveling the playing field by getting some of these technologies incentivized and that means dealing with this crazy town of Washington D.C. But I think the main thing that's wrong with your question is it's premise.
I was wondering if the panelists could comment on if they see this plug-in technology as a short term solution, a bridge to some longer term eventual solution or do they see this as the long term solution?
DUNCAN: I'm going to turn to Dr. Frank but I might give my short answer which is all three actually.
FRANK: My personal feeling is that this is short term for the next fifty or sixty years. So if that's long enough for you in the short term that's fine. So long term, short term has no boundaries. And it's a moving boundary. Who knows what we'll come up with in forty or fifty years, maybe Hydrogen, maybe something else. Our history has been innovation and new concepts that come up all the time. At the current time however the most important thing is we now have a new game. The new game is petroleum displacement. It's really not fuel economy it's really petroleum displacement. And that's what we should be focusing on and so in this whole business of starting a company there's no way we're going to start a company and compete with Ford or General Motors. That takes way too much infrastructure as my colleagues already mentioned. But a company could be started to supply components for hybrids and you see battery companies and other small companies beginning and these will become suppliers. That's the key to large scale manufacturing, having a supply chain of all the components necessary to have this thing come to pass.
ROMM: If I could just say, we have to get substantially off of oil in the next fifty years. Partly for global warming reasons, partly because if China and India used our per capita oil they would use more oil than the world uses today so, that's not going to be possible to meet all those demands. So you need to replace oil over the next five decades. The plausible alternative fuels are Hydrogen, electricity and biofuels. This coalition is not about Hydrogen, you can read my book It's not going to be Hydrogen, it's going to be electricity and biofuels. Therefore you're going to see a transition. The nice thing about this is that it's incremental. You don't have to simultaneously replace the entire vehicle infrastructure and fueling infrastructure at the same time. As the batteries get better you go from a plug in ten, to twenty mile to thirty, forty mile, you get more biofuels, you add them so that a plug in sixty that can run on Ethanol eighty five percent mixture is almost a thousand mile per gallon vehicle. So the point is you go from a regular hybrid fifty mile per gallon, higher and higher and higher as you get off of oil. So the answer is as the technology gets better this grows into being the long term solution, in my opinion.
Dr. Frank, how much would it cost to, how much could you sell a plug-in hybrid Prius for and how big is the battery? Would it take up a substantial storage space?
FRANK: We've shown over and over again that, we can build, my objective is to show what the boundaries are. As we go from a conventional hybrid to a plug-in hybrid maybe we want to move incrementally from a short range hybrid 10, 20, 30, 40 mile. I've shown in our research that it's possible today to build a 60-mile range hybrid that you plug-in overnight and you'll be able to drive 60 miles with no gasoline at all. I've done it, I've shown that in a Suburban full-size SUV and this Suburban tows a trailer, performs better than the convention, in fact out tows the conventional car on electricity and we ran it at the General Motors proving ground off-road course, faster and better than the conventional car on electricity only, no gasoline, so it's possible.
How much larger is the battery?
FRANK: Those batteries in the Suburban and the batteries in all the cars I've built are underneath the floor and I think the video showed that they don't take up any interior space at all.
Does the Coalition have some numbers for a goal of soft orders? And have you had any communications with the auto makers on what would impress them? I mean what you would have to show them to get their attention and to get them to develop the technology?
DUNCAN: We have not set specific goals in terms of fleet orders or incentives. The basic premise that we're operating on is that the auto makers did not perceive that a market existed for this type of vehicle. We initially set some very modest goals in Austin when we kicked off the campaign in August and quickly exceeded them. I was hoping to get soft fleet orders of ten or twenty vehicles from Austin and we have over six hundred fleet orders now just within sixty days or so from the city of Austin.
We feel confident that we will be able to get thousands of fleet orders of different types of vehicles and we are just starting to talk about incentives with other cities in the utilities as we've done. So, we did not set an artificial goal. The Auto industry has not told us that they need 5000 of this type of vehicle or that type of vehicle. Instead our conversations with the auto makers have indicated that they basically need to see that there is a mass market and we feel that we can demonstrate that.
WYNN: We already have the cities of San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles, joining in our plug-in partner program.
I'll be with 300 additional mayors here over the next 3 days and I think we're going to see a dramatic expansion of the awareness of the campaign.
Before going to the next question, I will state that we will be issuing quarterly updates on the campaign. After every three months we will be notifying the press of the number of soft vehicle fleet orders we have, the petitions we have signed an so forth and everyone can see it grow over the coming year.
The previous gentlemen that spoke about having your own business, my suggestion would be to have vehicle charging stations similar to the gas stations only when you drive in they're powered by photo-voltaic solar panels and you'd have electric meters to plug in. You'd have to wait awhile, stay in a hotel or something so you could move on. But if the gas stations aren't going to go with us then somebody could start their own business starting charging stations for plug-in cars.
CALLAHAN: With battery electric vehicles, I think it was proven that there was interest in those kinds of businesses. Costco for example in California put in opportunity charging, didn't even charge their customers for it. Malls in Atlanta, Phoenix, Arizona put in, they actually had more public charging stations at one point than they had electric vehicles. So, I think there is opportunity there and as we've said, Joe said earlier, electric utilities will be leading that effort and will want to look at that growth in a market that principally will be off peak to help them. They have a new end use market at it's at a time when they have excess capacity typically.
Given that the foreign manufacturers seem to be a little more proactive on hybrids I was wondering if this campaign is targeted at both the domestic and foreign manufacturers?
DUNCAN: The campaign is not designating either local or international manufacturers, we are demonstrating a demand for a certain type of vehicle. Our database is open to any auto maker that can provide a flexible fuel plug-in hybrid.
[1:22:25] And with that I would like to thank all of you for coming today. Our speakers will be around for further questions if there are any and thank you very much.
Thanks for transcription help to Greg Willey from Fair Oaks, CA and a second anonymous volunteer.