U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told the Sumner County Chamber of Commerce that in five years many of Sumner County residents could be driving electric cars and trucks to work.
“Everyday 73,000 people in Sumner County on average spend 27 minutes commuting to work each morning and then 27 minutes again to get back home at night,” Alexander said. “Within 5 years, you could be driving plug-in cars and trucks – saving money on fuel, making the air cleaner, and reducing the number of dollars we send overseas to countries funding terrorists who are trying to kill us. Plug-in electric cars and trucks are about to give Big Oil some real competition.”
Last month, Alexander joined in introducing the Gas Price Reduction Act (S. 3202), which includes provisions to encourage the development of plug-in vehicles. Specifically, the bill:
• Authorizes the Secretary of Energy to expand and accelerate research and development efforts for advanced batteries.
o $100 million per year for fiscal years 2010-2014.
• Authorizes direct loans for U.S. advanced battery manufacturing facilities.
o $250 million per year for fiscal years 2009-2013.
• Includes a “Sense of the Senate” resolution that the Federal Government should increase its purchases of electric vehicles.
“Sixty percent of Americans drive less than 30 miles each day,” Alexander said. “Those of us who do could drive a plug-in vehicle without using a drop of gasoline. If we plugged them in at night and if the rest of the country is like the Tennessee Valley region, there is enough idle electric capacity available in existing power plants that Americans could, over time, replace three-fourths of our light vehicles with plug-ins. That could cut in half the amount of oil we import – or reduce our overseas oil bill from $500 billion to $250 billion at today’s prices.”
Alexander noted “Tennessee’s new status as an automotive center means we can and should be at the center of this transformation.” He stressed that Nissan, Toyota, Ford, and General Motors are planning to introduce plug-in vehicles in 2010 and that Federal Express is using hybrid trucks in its delivery fleets now.
Alexander predicted TVA would soon offer “smart meters” permitting its 8.7 million customers in seven states to plug vehicles in at night at a low cost in exchange for paying more for electricity during peak usage hours between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in May, Alexander proposed a “new Manhattan Project: a five-year project to put America firmly on the path to clean energy independence.”
“Instead of ending a war, the goal of the new Manhattan Project will be clean energy independence – so that we can deal with skyrocketing gasoline prices, soaring electricity prices, clean air, climate change, and national security – for our country first, and because other countries have the same urgent needs and therefore will adopt our ideas – for the rest of the world,” Alexander concluded. “We should begin by exploring for more of the oil and natural gas that the United States already has. But to lower gasoline prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must also look for more ways to reduce our use of oil.”
Senator Alexander’s entire Oak Ridge address proposing a new Manhattan Project may be found on his website here.