When Washington State’s new Governor is elected this November he should begin thinking about how to reduce dependence on oil and accelerate the transition to alternative fuel, smart, and connected vehicles.
That’s the advice offered by Steve Marshall, executive director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions and chair of the recent “Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation in Century 21″ conference in Seattle. The day-long meeting focused on “how advances in batteries, information technology, communications, lightweight materials, and electric vehicles are enabling safer, faster, more affordable, and greener transportation.”
Marshall has specific recommendations for the next Governor, which we’ll get into below. Both gubernatorial candidates addressed the conference by video; we’ll publish Rob McKenna’s video Monday and Jay Inslee’s on Tuesday.
Washington State is particularly well-positioned to transition to electric vehicles, Marshall notes:
“Washington has one of the cleanest and cheapest electric-power-supply systems in the country. Electric-car owners here pay the electric-power equivalent of 75 cents a gallon. Replacing imported oil with electricity makes special sense in Washington.
GM reported that last year owners of the Chevy Volt collectively saved a supertanker full of gasoline. Jay Leno has driven his Volt 18,000 miles on 12 gallons of gas. Although below high expectations, electrical-vehicle sales are ahead of the curve compared to the initial sales of the hybrid Prius, which is now the third best-selling car in the world.“
Marshall notes that Washington state drivers “spent $16 billion in 2009 on gasoline, diesel and oil. By comparison the state spent just $10 billion on K-12 education.” Because oil has a virtual monopoly on transportation fuels, when gasoline prices go up, we have no choice but to pay up. High oil prices harm the state’s economy.”
So what can Washington’s next Governor do to reduce dependence on oil and accelerate the transition to alternative fuel, smart and connected vehicles? Marshall recommends these five steps:
*Join with federal and neighboring state fleet managers to buy replacement fleet vehicles that plug into our clean state power grid — after performing a rigorous life-cycle cost analysis.
*Remove regulatory roadblocks and ensure consistency in state policy, including regulatory reform that would give utilities flexibility to meet renewable-energy goals. For instance, the state could give utilities green-energy credits for encouraging use of electric vehicles.
*Develop pilot congestion-relief projects, such as one in cooperation with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, to demonstrate how to connect commuters with advanced transportation options and to test communication standards for connected, increasingly autonomous vehicles.
*Facilitate a system to enable commuters to reserve parking places at expanded high-tech park-and-ride lots, reserve seats on buses and create flexible ride-sharing programs to make bus systems more fuel-efficient. (King County’s diesel buses, for example, average only 44 miles per gallon per passenger — which is actually less efficient than a Prius with a single occupant).
*Build on the partnership with West Coast states that launched the I-5 electric highway and work to create common standards, pool research results and develop joint economic-development opportunities.