Editor’s Note: This is the first contribution to gas2.org by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Mayor Nickels is President of the US Conference of Mayors and was awarded the E-Visionary Award by the World Electric Vehicle Association. For more, see electriccarrace.org.
When it comes to electric transportation, Seattle has a significant advantage.
Our city-owned utility, Seattle City Light, was the first large electric utility in the country to become carbon-neutral using hydropower, innovative energy efficiency solutions, and carbon offsets. When you are driving on City Light electricity, you are truly driving a zero emission vehicle.
As a new generation of electric vehicles prepare to enter the market, cities along the West Coast from Vancouver B.C. to San Diego are taking steps to get plug-in ready. Because of Seattle’s partnership with Nissan, we will be leading the way and expect to be one of the first markets in the country to see Nissan’s highway-capable EV for sale in fall 2010.
To make this transition from internal combustion to electric engines, we must end the era of the filling station and usher in the era of the charging station. The first will be located in residences. In Seattle, our online permit system makes it possible for someone buying a new all-electric car to receive a quick permit for a 220 volt home charging station. I have also added code provisions requiring additional built-in capacity for electric vehicle charging in new residential construction. Right from the start, prospective customers know they’ll have a place a place to plug in.
But we’re not stopping there. We are working with Nissan and others to promote the development of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. And we are very hopeful that we will secure federal funding to establish 1,000-plus charging stations at public and private locations in the Seattle-area, including a network of fast charging stations every 3 to 5 miles throughout the region. This will be in conjunction with Washington State’s plan to establish charging stations at rest stops along Interstate-5.
With the opening of electric light rail in Seattle this July 18 (something I’ve worked 21 years to make a reality), development of a streetcar network, expansion of King County Metro’s electric bus trolleys, and introduction of electric cars, millions of trips every year will be made on carbon- free electricity. This will put us on the way to meet my goal of reducing carbon emissions by 648,000 metric tons by 2012.
By using clean electricity to power our transportation system we’ll protect our climate, and kick the foreign oil habit.
Without a doubt, Seattle will be the leader in clean energy and electric vehicles.
I extend an invitation to my fellow mayors to join us. I congratulate Portland and San Francisco for taking major steps to green up their grid while preparing for the electric car revolution. This is an exciting time, and the coming clean energy economy will open up plenty of opportunities for all of our cities to win jobs and investment.