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Robert Trigaux

Tampa Bay to be among frontrunner metro areas for electric cars



Wake up and good morning. Interesting update from the AP on how certain electric utilities are bracing for the arrival of electric cars. The good news is this will prove a big boost in electricity demand just as the electric utility industry laments a slow economy that has damped down the need to produce more power. The challenging news, says AP, is this:

"Plugged into a socket, an electric car can draw as much power as a small house. The surge in demand could knock out power to a home, or even a neighborhood. That has utilities in parts of California, Texas and North Carolina scrambling to upgrade transformers and other equipment in neighborhoods where the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are expected to be in high demand."

Florida, too, will be affected. The AP story cites Progress Energy expecting electric car clusters to form around Tampa and Orlando. See this story ("Electric Car Demand Could Dwarf Supply") for a hint of the coming boom.

That's just might be the selling point Progress Energy Florida can use to reinvigorate support for its planned addition of a nuclear power plant in Levy County, north of Tampa Bay. The initial enthusiasm for the Levy plant has dimmed thanks to a combination of negative news: a decline in overall electricity demand now that boom times have receded; a lack of federal focus and support on whether the nation really wants more nukes; continuing questions about the design of the nuclear plant that Progress Energy has chosen; public distaste in Florida for a state law that lets Progress Energy (and any other utility seeking to build a nuke plant in the state) charge customers in advance for many of the costs of the plant (even if it is never built); and, most of all, astounding and frequent increases in the predicted cost of the plant.

Still, there's good reason Tampa Bay is cited as one of the more promising cities for an early embrace of electric cars. Tampa, along with cities like Dallas, Houston, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix, are the best markets for electric cars because they have a high percentage of drivers whose daily commute is 50 miles or less (which means electric cars can make it and from work without a recharge). So says new research by General Electric and Deloitte reported here.

Here's the full AP story.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010 8:08am]


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