Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have Plug, Will Travel | The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

By driving prototypes and collecting data on mileage and performance, Jackson Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) in Georgia is helping make that goal possible. The cooperative is testing one of a handful of after-market retrofits, a Toyota Prius. Alan Shedd, a commercial-industrial marketing engineer at Jackson EMC who drives the car all over the Jackson service territory outside Atlanta. Shedd has logged 30,000 miles since the conversion.
The converted Prius runs on a lithium-ion battery that recharges in four hours from a standard 120-volt house outlet, using about 40 cents of electricity. “If you’re driving in the range of 25 to 30 miles, the battery will power the car so you get infinite mileage – you’re burning electricity instead of gas,” Shedd explained. At this stage in development, however, the battery and conversion package increases the cost of the car by about fifty percent.
Basin Electric Power, a multi-state generation and transmission cooperative in North Dakota, Four County EMC in North Carolina, and Salem Electric in Oregon are also participating in the study. In 2008, the study will expand to include three more converted cars to be tested by Central G&T in South Carolina, Central Indiana Power in Indiana, and Bluegrass Energy in Kentucky.

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