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Montana's Gov. Schweitzer Touts PHEVs/V2G at Nat'l Gov Assn Summit
Jan 7, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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We were honored to get a call last week from Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is working to get Montana and, through the National Governor's Association, many other states involved in accelerating commercialization of PHEVs. Schweitzer is a big fan of plug-in cars in general, having visited Tesla Motors and having recently worked to make Montana the first state to allow neighborhood electric vehicles to go 35 rather than 25 MPH (which makes NEVs far more practical). For more about the very broad ideas that come from the governor of a high coal-producing state, see­ ,read a profile at­2006/­10/­08/­magazine/­08governor.html .

Schweitzer is helping to drive the National Governors Association's Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative. At a recent summit meeting that included US carmakers, he heard them say there was no way they could gear up to provide enough batteries to power more than 30% of US cars by 2030. The Governor described his response: at the time of Pearl Harbor, the US had the world's fifth most powerful military; we went on to build capacity and win a world war in four years. Saying that their response was inadequate to the challenge, he also pointed to CalCars' conversions as an important starting point. Schweitzer favors a 15% tax credit (that would buy down $4,500 of the higher initial cost of a $30,000 PHEV) and what are called "feed-in tariffs" to allow the full integration of distributed solar and wind power with central utility generation. And he's looking forward to having his own PHEV as soon as possible.

A year ago, a handful of states were actively working on promoting PHEVs. The number of PHEV-focused US states and Canadian provinces continues to grow: we've reported on projects in California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinnois, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Might it be too much to hope that one state agency might form a consortium to take the lead with a proposal for USDOE's new PHEV demonstration programs we just described at­calcars-news/­896.html ?

Below is a report from The Missoulian about the Summit, followed by URLs and a press release about the National Governors' Association inititiative.

Governor outlines energy proposal
Schweitzer wants automakers to retool for electric cars
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian­news/­node/­981

Gov. Brian Schweitzer wants his car to cook his dinner.

And heat the bath water, power the TV and sell electricity at a profit on the national grid.

The idea's no more outlandish than America's leap from depression-wracked isolationism with a fifth-rate military to world-dominating superpower in the four years from Pearl Harbor to V-E Day. What's outlandish, in Schweitzer's opinion, is the corporate resistance to change that's stalled such ideas.

During a visit to Missoula on Thursday, Schweitzer said he'd outlined his energy vision during last month's National Governors Association summit on alternative transportation fuels and advanced vehicles in Florida. He wasn't happy with the response from automakers, who told him it would take 30 years to adapt present factories to all-electric car production.

But people outside the auto industry and outside the United States are already racing ahead on such vehicles. Whether it's the Toyota Prius or some venture capitalist's demo engine, Schweitzer said he's banking on public demand moving away from gasoline-powered cars.

Two pieces of federal legislation would trigger the revolution. One would be a 15 percent tax credit on the price of electric cars. The other would be to turn the national electricity grid into an open market where any producer could participate.

It's that second part that powers Schweitzer's idea. It goes like this: Electricity is expensive during the peak business hours of the day, but cheap at night. Electric cars are essentially portable batteries. Car owners can recharge them any time, day or night. And even current models can store more energy than the average driver needs for daily travel.

So why not plug cars into the grid at night, when electricity is cheap, and then use surplus (non-driving) energy to run home appliances? Furthermore, how about selling some of that cheap late-night electricity back to the national grid during expensive, peak-power times?

As Schweitzer sees it, the biggest challenge would be the accounting system needed to keep track of everyone's electrical deposits and withdrawals. The automotive technology and electrical power capacity already exists.

A new National Governors Association report cites figures from the Electric Power Research Institute Journal's fall 2005 issue, which says "plug-in hybrids could operate inexpensively (as low as 75 cents per-gallon equivalent), reduce oil consumption by 60 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds ... compared with traditional vehicles."

While the association's "Call to Action" didn't include Schweitzer's full vision of home battery independence, it did argue that the nation's electricity capacity was up to the task. And it suggested that the change would likely come from state initiatives rather than federal action.

Schweitzer sits on the NGA's Clean Energy Future Task Force with fellow governors Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota), Kathleen Sebelius (Kansas), Jodi Rell (Connecticut), Charlie Crist (Florida), Linda Lingle (Hawaii), Edward Rendell (Pennsylvania) and Chris Gregorie (Washington).

While the association's report had a couple pages of ideas for clean-coal technology, Schweitzer said nothing Thursday about his own campaign to foster new coal-fired generators in Montana. He also said nothing about a proposed deal to build a coal gasification plant in the eastern part of the state, which has failed to materialize.

Instead, he touted his efforts to add solar panels to the governor's mansion and his intention to buy an all-electric, American-built car as soon as one becomes available. He also hopes to attract a production facility for wind turbines to the state. And he's called on state government agencies to reduce power consumption 20 percent by 2010.

The National Governors Association's "Securing a Clean Energy Future" report can be found via at­Files/­pdf/­0712SCEFCALLTOACTION.PDF PHEVs are discussed on page 16 of the report

Governors Call for Improving Alternative Fuels and Clean Vehicles in States Securing a Clean Energy Future: A Call to Action News Release 12/13/2007

Governors Convene in Florida as Part of NGA's Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative, Release 'A Call to Action' Report

WASHINGTON—As part of the National Governors Associations (NGA) Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative (SCEF Initiative), four governors today joined together in Florida to discuss advancing alternative fuels and clean vehicles in the United States, release the first SCEF Initiative publication "A Call to Action," and announce a clean energy partnership between NGA and Discovery Communications.

NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty opened the summit by stating, "America is the world's leading consumer of petroleum, using more than 7.6 billion barrels of oil a year, of which more than 60 percent is imported. If we're to wrestle back control of our own energy future, America must devote serious attention to increasing development of alternative fuels and clean vehicles. As this conference demonstrates, governors are leading the way."

SCEF Task Force Member Florida Gov. Charlie Crist added, "I am honored to unite with other governors who are taking action to advance our nation's use of renewable energy. As we work together, I am confident that by increasing our use of ethanol – as well as solar power and wind energy – we move closer to making clean energy the standard of the day."

At the "Governors' Summit on Alternative Transportation Fuels and Advanced Vehicles," Gov. Pawlenty, Gov. Crist, SCEF Initiative Co-Chair Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and SCEF Task Force Member Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer highlighted the opportunities and challenges governors face when developing and using alternative transportation fuels, infrastructure and vehicles in their states.

"Kansas is making great strides in the production, consumption, and promotion of biofuels," said Gov. Sebelius. "I look forward to working with governors across the country to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil."

At a press conference following their discussion, the governors released the SCEF Initiative's "A Call to Action," a report declaring America's current energy path unacceptable because of escalating economic risk and serious environmental consequences. The report compels the nation's governors to act now to solve America's energy challenges by:

  • Defining the current energy problem, including the depths of our current dependence on oil and other fossil fuels;
  • Painting a stark picture of the "business as usual" future;
  • Dispelling myths associated with increasing alternative energy sources, breaking our oil addiction, meeting surging electricity demand, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Describing the integral role states will play in promoting clean energy; and
  • Presenting the SCEF Initiative's roadmap to a cleaner, more secure energy future for America.

"For too long myths and hearsay have prevented meaningful action on these issues," said Gov. Schweitzer. "But governors are taking action. I'm proud to be here today with my colleagues to continue our work addressing our nation's shared energy challenges."

The SCEF Initiative is not just about motivating governors to embrace clean energy policies, but also about raising awareness of the importance individual contributions can make in solving America's energy challenges. Today NGA also announced a partnership with Discovery Communications – home to the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other notable television programming – to motivate individuals across the country to embrace clean energy in their everyday activities. At the summit,Gov. Pawlenty unveiled the first product of this partnership: a public service announcement (PSA) that demonstrates simple actions individuals can take to reduce their overall energy consumption, and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. The PSA will begin airing on Discovery's networks in 2008.

Discovery is a passionate advocate of preserving our earth and a leader in developing television programs that educate citizens about the earth's best qualities. Next year, Discovery's commitment to these issues will reach new heights when Discovery Home channel becomes Planet Green – the first 24-hour eco-lifestyle channel dedicated to making a difference by providing tools, information and content that will enlighten, empower and most importantly, entertain.Gov. Pawlenty and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are honorary board members of Planet Green.

This is the first of three summits planned by NGA's SCEF Initiative. The SCEF Initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Energy Deliverability and Reliability. In 2008, the SCEF Initiative will convene summits focusing on states' role in encouraging research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies and also look at options to promote clean power generation and energy efficiency. For more information on the Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative, please visit

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit

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