New Study: The Effect of Plug-In Hybrids on the Nation's Power Grid

According to a new study by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (http://www.nwppc.org/library/releases/2008/1120.htm), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles would not put additional stress on America’s electric power system. Though common assumptions dictate that plug-ins would burden the power grid with the extra electrical draw needed for recharging, the Portland-based environmental organization reports that this is not the case. “The thing that would offset the increased demand for electricity is the fact that most plug-ins would be ‘plugged in’ throughout the nighttime off-peak hours,” Suril Parikh, an energy analyst for Baltimore Gas and Electric, told Hybridcars.com.

Furthermore, the council’s report asserts that if more than half the cars in the nation were switched to plug-in hybrids at this moment, the existing power installations would be able to sufficiently provide the overage of energy needed on tap. In other words, there would be no need to build any new power plants or related infrastructure.

The newfound information helps refute the common assumption that the future of plug-in technology will be hindered by the limitations of utility companies to generate enough power for expanded applications within the mass market.

The research goes on to say that widespread use of plug-in hybrids could reduce US oil dependency by up to 50 percent and eliminate more than a quarter of the current vehicle-based greenhouse gas emissions. It also predicts that these vehicles would result in more than an 80 percent savings for consumers at the fuel pumps.

Although this study was specific to the Northwest region of the US, the council says the findings apply to the nation as a whole. The Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Its primary directive is to develop and implement a regional power plan, as well as a wildlife program to maintain the Pacific Northwest’s environmental and energy needs.