Feds, electricity utilities to focus on plug-in vehicles

The federal government and electricity utilities are looking for ways to boost plug-in electric vehicle production in the United States. 

The Department of Energy and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) have signed a deal to increase the use of electric vehicles by “bringing utilities directly into the fold,” DOE announced on Monday. EEI is an industry group representing investor-owned U.S. electric companies. 

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The partnership will conduct a study on the economic impact of electric cars and the best ways for utilities to invest in them. Federal agencies and states will be asked to collaborate on ways to “break down barriers to electric-powered driving and expand electric vehicle opportunities in communities across the country,” according to the (DOE). 

“Today’s announcement enhances the kinds of private-public partnerships needed to remain at the forefront of advanced vehicle technologies that reduce our emissions and provide safe, reliable transport for the American people,” Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizAl Franken to host SiriusXM radio show Two years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded Biden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan MORE said in a statement.

President Obama has looked to increase electric car use in the United States, and DOE has a goal of developing electric vehicles as affordable as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2025.

But the Obama administration has had to scale back some of their electric car goals. In 2009, Obama said the U.S. would have 1 million electric cars on the road by this year. Consumers bought fewer than 300,000 of them since then, though DOE notes that electric vehicle sales more than doubled between 2012 and 2014. 

Obama also signed an executive order in March calling for a 30 percent reduction in the federal vehicle fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. He had originally said that by this year, every vehicle bought by the federal government would be fuel efficient or use clean energy. 

Even so, DOE said Monday’s deal would help ease the transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric plug-ins for both the government and the electric industry.

“Transportation electrification benefits electric utility customers, while also bolstering America’s energy security and sustainability,” EEI President Tom Kuhn said. “These are priorities our industry shares with our government partners.”