Imagine being able to drive from Vancouver, B.C., to Baja, California, without using gasoline. That’s what West-coast Governers are contemplating with a new plan to build a network of alternative-fuel stations along the I-5 corridor.
The Governers of Washington, Oregon, and California met briefly last month to discuss the idea of an alternative fueling infrastructure that would offer up a mix of biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, or compressed natural gas, along with the opportunity to recharge or swap out batteries for electric cars.
As it stands today, only the exceptionally motivated are able to find alt. fuels on the road, although some stations do exist, and there are services that will send local station information to your cell-phone. But if this plan moves forward—which it could in Washington State as early as next summer—it would be the first time drivers have easy access to all these options.
The new fueling stations would also be the first businesses on the West Coast allowed at rest stops, and wouldn’t be charged rent until they turn a profit.
It’s no big suprise that Shai Agassi’s Better Place, which hopes to make electric cars a reality, is the first company looking for a contract. According to Jeff Miller (global development), Better Place would install fully-automated battery swapping stations in major cities and at rest areas every 40 miles. A rest-stop battery swap would be finished in the amount of time it takes to stretch your legs—about 5 minutes—and would make it possible for an electric car to make it the entire length of I-5.
The plan (obviously) has a lot of hurdles to overcome, including state and federal regulations and opposition from the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO- yes this really exists).
It’s not clear how much the plan would cost yet, but it’s possible that it could be up for part of the $15 billion in federal stimulus dedicated to energy-related programs.
[Source: Seattle Times]
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