Plugging in Austin … Texas leading the way to a smart(er) grid?

Austin’s Mayor, Will Wynn, is a serious plug-in hybrid vehicle supporter.  And, he has been a strong advocate of PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) from Austin to Washington, DC. “We have made our intentions clear that we want to pave the way for the plug-in hybrid …”

In short, the concept is to develop 

  • A concentration of plug-in hybrid vehicles plugged into
  • A smart(er) that enables powering the hybrid vehicles or, as necessary (and according to owners’ desires), draw power from the battery back into the grid to
  • Help balance out renewable power intermittency.

Austin currently receives six percent of its electricity from wind sources.  As this increases, the issue of covering power requirements when the wind isn’t blowing becomes an ever more serious issue.  With enough penetration of PHEVs plugged into a smart(er) grid, the car batteries can serve as storage for the grid, storing power when the wind is blowing and feeding power back into the grid when the wind isn’t blowing (and the sun isn’t shining).

As Wynn puts it,

“Really, the true beauty of this system is the fact that vehicles charged by the electric system will run on alternative energy sources, such as West Texas wind, instead of Middle East oil”

Austin plans to give $1000 to the first 1000 PHEV purchasers in the city.

Wynn is approaching this truly as a campaign.  His goal is “a mafia of 50 like-minded, large U.S. cities that are fed up with pollution and high fuel costs.  … Armed with commitments for fleet orders … to buy the first round of vehicles … this mafia will tell automakers that the time for change is now.”

For more information, check out Plug-In Austin

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