Democrats Put Plug-in Hybrids on Main Stage

The unofficial theme of the second night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver was the building of a green economy. In speech after speech, the Democrats pointed to Senator Barack Obama’s plan to put 1 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on American roads by 2015—and to rebuild the American auto industry in the process—as the cornerstone of his plan for energy independence.

Early in the evening, Nancy Floyd, a venture capitalist who focuses on alternative energy, made the link between the revitalization of the American economy and the revamping of Detroit. She said that Obama “will cut taxes for families who buy fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and make sure that those cars are being built by American autoworkers.” Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm hosted a town hall panel discussion to discuss the fate of her state’s work force and Obama’s efforts to create a new generation of “green collar” workers.

These presentations set the stage for the evening’s prime-time speakers, who spoke specifically, and repeatedly, about the potential for plug-in hybrids. “If we actually got ourselves off foreign oil, we can make our country safer. We’ll start to solve global warming,” said Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. “And with the right policies, within 24 months, we’ll be building 100 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid vehicles right here, with American technology and with American workers.”

In a rousing speech, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer extolled the environmental and economic virtues of energy efficiency. “Barack Obama understands the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t use.” Schweitzer tied that concept to Obama’s specific proposal to “invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology.” He said, “Senator Obama’s plan will also invest in a modern transmission grid to deliver this new, clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels to homes, offices and the batteries in America’s new plug-in hybrid cars.”

While the ability for Obama, if elected, to deliver on his energy-related campaign promises remains to be seen, Tuesday night’s presentations helped establish the “plug-in hybrid” as a mainstream American household term—perhaps as a synonym for “100-mpg vehicle.” The speeches also set a high benchmark for Republicans when they outline Senator John McCain’s energy and environmental policies at the GOP convention next week in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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  • Shines

    Economic development to improve national defence. I like it.

  • Armand

    Wow…an America that actually does some good and doesn’t kill people in the process…

    Nah….pipe dream.

  • Forrest

    I really hope he wins and delivers everything he promises.

    That would do so much for our economy.

    I am really excited about this.

  • GR

    Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer brought the house down with his speech last night!

  • BE

    You people are being hoodwinked. $15 Billion a year is a drop in the bucket of what it’ll take to expand our transmission lines and develop cost-effective plug-in hybrids. In the meantime, hard-working Americans, seniors and the poor will continue to suffer more and more because of the Dems refusal to drill for more oil in Alaska and off-shore.

    If Obama’s so smart how come he doesn’t understand about the elasticity of supply and demand and how a small change in either will drive a large price decrease.

    Where’s the plans for emission-free, independent nuclear energy? Thanks for nothing!

  • kerry bradshaw

    I am, unfortunately, embarrased to admit that I’m a transplanted native Virginian. Warner obviously doesn’t mind talking about things that he obviously knows nothing about. This country WILL have a plug-in hybrid on the streets within 24 months, and doesn’t require any assistence from the Feds in order to do so, and it will NOT get the 100 MPG that brainless Warner claims – it will achieve closer to 250 MPG. Don’t you just love it when Govt politician/lawyers start explaining technology that they clearly don’t understand?

  • Samie

    Love BE’s comments :)) Why b/c he/she shows why such a plan doesn’t work Partisanship is a killer! And the lack of real knowledge troubles me. Never could understand this issue and to this date it baffles me when people make BE’s arguments. Not sure BE understands economics that well either. Lets just look at supply and demand of domestic oil, tell me when it will be online, how much supply (indirectly and remember that domestic oil can go into foreign markets, including in Alaska..) will change price to consumers, tell me the duration and output levels of oil that would cause a significant decrease in imported foreign oil. This is important b/c foreign oil is accounting for more and more of our oil input, this has been a trend since the 70’s so please tell me how more oil drilled off Alaska, SC, CA, FL or any other state would decrease this trend? And remember how markets need choices (alternatives) for hopefully someday a switching point? Where are the vehicles in mass quantities for consumers to purchase? What about the role of technology? 15 billion is a drop in the bucket but encouraging markets to form creates new avenues w/ plug in hybrids and the next leap to EV’s. BE proves partisanship politics is WAY better then any long term energy solutions :))

  • Doug Korthof

    This article is such B.S., it completely misses the point.

    The Dems were shown REAL plug-in NO GAS Electric cars, such as the Toyota RAV4-EV, by superdelegate Nate Vandershaaf.

    It’s not 100 mpg plug-ins that are possible; it’s oil-free cars that can take you on the daily grind charged up slowly overnight on off-peak energy, paid for by daytime production from your rooftop solar system.

    But you missed the point. When will real reporters ever cover this story??

  • Doug Korthof

    “BE”, you need to study the electric usage curve.
    The average home uses 1000 kWh per month; to go 1000 miles in an EV, such as the Toyota RAV4-EV, takes only 250 kWh, a small fraction of usage — but more importantly, charging up slowly at night, evening out the usage curve. Study and the electric usage curve. that red line is the rise and fall of demand; the green line is our capacity. We are NOT short of electric power! We still have too much electric.

    Even better, if you put a rooftop solar system on your home, you pay for it with the money you DON’T spend for gas — cleaning the environment at the same time you take money from Chevron, Exxon and other predatory oil companies.

    Where’s the harm in that??

  • Waltz

    Governor Brian Schweitzer’s speech slammed the oil companies which sponsored some networks who televised the convention, guess once in while the oil companies can’t always influence the outcome of the content aired on TV, in a lame way I thought that was really funny to see last night.


    Just Say NOBAMA! DRILL NOW and do these things, Wind, Solar and Hydrogen. Keep making Biofuels, not everyone wants to drive an electric car. John McCain has it right!

  • Bryce

    I am just happy to see that alternative fuels and electric/EREV vehicles are now mainstream.

    Here’s to hoping for the million plug-ins!

  • brianNY

    OK let me understand this, we are going to charge our plug in vehices using solar cells at NIGHT. Am I the only one to see a problem here.
    And using wind turbines is very expensive and not reliable. We have gone many days with little or no wind.

  • MJ77

    BryanNY.. It’s pretty simple, you charge your cars using either Coal, Nuclear or wind power in the existing grid. All 3 sources are US home grown sources and all 3 sources are better for the Environment than Oil. That is a fact!

    It’s actually pretty simple.

  • Need2Change

    The Democrats are taking credit for building the Chevrolet Volt. It would have occurred without them.

    And the same is true of the million plugins by 2015. By 2015 there should be almost one million Volts on the road if GM achieves its 200,000 annual target. And I suspect there will be more Prius plugins than Volts–not mention the plugins from other companies. One million by 2015 is an easy target.

  • PatrickPunch

    Ever thought about living in an energy efficient way (transport, housing, etc.) so you can share the available energy with the rest of the world.

    Moreover, high mpg does not mean energy efficient if you need a lot of electric energy. So the real message is downsizing the vehicles and the vehicle use.

  • brian NY

    Mj77, I know that but that is not what they are saying. I am a proponet of Nuclear Power, I live a few mies from Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, not a believer in wind power. With wind so unpredicatable, power companies have to have standby power availabe at all times.

  • Samie

    Why do people say its the Democrats plan, when it should be America’s plan. Drill more folks need to wake up cuz u haven’t done anything in 30yrs to change what is now 70-80% foreign oil coming into the US. Sorry if I want the Volt to be a hit (might be hard w/o a tax break for early buyers:(. The way some of you are we never would have made it to the moon or had the New Deal. Politics and games as usual and its sad to see the Big lobbying boys dumb down American ingenuity and progress towards freeing ourselves from this energy crisis.

  • Robin van Spaandonk

    Wind is not unpredictable on a large scale, only on a small scale and locally. If wind contributes to the power supply right across the nation, then much of the variation washes out. This is particularly true with the addition of offshore wind farms, as offshore winds are more reliable.

  • Anonymous

    This is all good, but I question the Big 3s ability to accomplish this goal. If it requires government funding, smaller revolutionary companies like Aptera and Tesla should get funding as well. They are American companies after all.

  • Bryce

    I think the plan at this point is that the companies will not get funding for their research directly, but instead through tax incentives to consumers, so that any favorites taking is non-existent. Admittedly though, larger companies with greater resources are able to make it more affordable than start-ups can, which usually make them more viable on the market.

  • Hal Howell

    Its very interesting that while the Dems are blaming the Repubs with an energy policy failure when they had control of Congress for most of the last 30 years and they did nothing! They are NOW the ones holding us back from doing the things necessary to solve the problem. Wow, what patent lying!!! Since they are the problem, what makes anyone think they are all of a sudden going to solve the problem. They ARE the problem!!!

  • GR

    Dems are not the problem. Offshore drilling won’t solve anything. It actually might just make our problems worse.

  • Bryce

    Well, I don’t think it could possibly make it worse, though the improvement may be called into question. It is true though, the dems had the legislature for decades, and nothing much changed. Not until it became politically popular have they jumped on the band wagon. Both sides tend to be a little ridiculous, don’t just think it is all one sides fault.

  • Going2Green

    As the Democratic Convention wraps up and the hoopla of the Republican Convention heats up Americans are still left with a sense of a lot of hot air of any concrete plans to end the energy crisis in America. Northerners dread the upcoming onset of fall and colder weather wondering how they will be able to afford how to keep their homes and families warm. Southerners have been sweating the high cost of energy raising the thermostat to save on their electric bills. Families everywhere are wondering where else they can cut back to cover the cost of fueling up the family vehicle to get back and forth to work and take care of the necessities of life. There is no money left for relaxation and family fun. The stress level continues to rise. The average electric bill has risen 16% to cover the power companies additional production costs. A gallon of milk is almost as precious as a gallon of gas. The cost of every consumer product has risen sharply. American’s are stretched to the limit. Jobs are being lost, foreclosures are increasing at an alarming rate. Seems even the family pets are suffering the high cost of fuel as almost daily a new story is on TV about shelters being forced to euthanize record number of surrendered pets from those forced out of their homes or no longer able to care for them. The energy crisis in our country is far reaching and needs immediate attention. I am hoping whoever gets elected will get their act together and make this their #1 priority.

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