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City of Seattle and Local Agencies to Test 13 Plug-In Hybrids

The city of Seattle, Washington and other local agencies will participate in a yearlong demonstration project to test the performance of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in an urban area.

For the project, 13 existing Priuses will be converted to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at a total cost of $156,000. In addition to technical support, the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will provide funding, which will be matched by funding from program participants. A123Systems will provide the conversion kits through its Hymotion division. (Earlier post.)

The project will test technology used to convert the second generation Priuses to PHEVs; test PHEV performance in an urban area; help evaluate PHEV-electric grid integration issues; and promote electricity as an alternative fuel for transportation.

Last week oil prices broke $90 per barrel for the first time. In King County, 52 percent of our greenhouse gas pollution comes from burning oil in our cars and trucks. For the sake of our economy, security and our climate, we need to use fewer cars and greener cars for getting around.

—Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels

Three of the four City of Seattle Priuses are from City Light and the other is from the city’s Motor Pool. The plug-in Prius conversions will cost $12,000 per vehicle and will be done in the first quarter of 2008. The conversion includes the installation of equipment that will automatically collect on-road data from each vehicle. The data gathered will add to the INL’s growing database on PHEVs.

The DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory is the lead for the field performance and life testing of advanced technology vehicles.

Seattle Plug-in Hybrid Demonstration Project
Participating Agency# of Priuses Converted
Conversion funded by INLConversion funded by Participating Agency
City of Seattle 2 2
King County 2 2
Port of Seattle 1 1
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency 1 2



Now if only the Priuses would not be burning fossil
fuels. If we don't change to something else they'll
just jack up the price of their oil to match whatever
profits they make now on the gas hogs.

The PHEVs have to be fueled with renewable fuels.

Get off petroleum now.


Seems Mayor Nichels is more than pitching pennies at PHEVs. He's been in contact with the Seattle Electric Vehicle Ass., an enthusiastic EV group, & gets them to smile once in a while. Seattle has a few areas around town that caters to plug-in EVs. With the Northwest's cleanly produced electricity & excellent plans for further renewable electric power, the Northwest could become a real hotspot of EVs.


Washington State gets about 75% of its electricity from hydroelectric and about 8% from nuclear, so plug in hybrids make more sense in Washington than just about anywhere else. Too bad they didn't throw in a few of the Ford Escape Hybrid's with the Hymotion battery packs as well, they can be useful in a lot of utility types of jobs that don't suit the Prius. One of the things that government can do is generate demand for the early adopters of game changing technology, and the plug in hybrids are all that, as will the RxEV's like the Chevy Volt.


There is only 1 commercial operating nuclear plant in the Northwest & that in the region of the Federal Hanford nuclear plants. The Northwest favors renewable energy sources with abundant windy regions north & south of the Columbia River in Washington & Oregon for wind turbines near already existing hydro-power transmission lines to Portland & Seattle. Hundreds of turbines have been & thousands more will be constructed, with Bonneville Power saying there is room for 6000 Megawatts of wind power...maybe plant some solar panels under the wind turbines & power lines too. Chuck nuclear & nuclear nuts trying to get a free ride on global warming! I'll ride my electric bike & drive an electric car on the wind & on the sun!

Harvey D


I agree with you that PHEVs consuming up to 85% less fuel could operate on renewable fuels without puting too much pressure on food price.

litesong & ziv;

Tks for the information.

Our provincial grid is currently about 96% hydro, 3% nuclear (one plant), 1% wind. Wind should reach about 3% in 2012 and 5% in 2015-16. PHEVs & BEVs (between 1 and 2 million) would be a welcomed change. Overnight recharge would not be a problem with existing power plants & distribution grid.


May the Administrator filter this nozzle spammer?


Hi Harvey D & swen...The problem with renewable fuels such as E85(even used in Hybrid cars) is their pollutions. Despite the wonders of 3 way catalytic converters, studies indicate that inner city children have greater lung disease & death if they live, play & school near freeways. Recent studies also indicate that Internal Combustion Engine fuels are strong causative factors in heart diseases...ESPECIALLY fine diesel exhaust particles. Prof. Mark Jacobson's study reported here on GCC April 18, 2007, indicates that E85 is as or more detrimental to health than gasoline.

We must raise the energy density of EV batteries & ultracapacitors. The future must see electric motors totally replacing Internal Combustion Engines when operating near large populations. Already London is pointing that way. ICE must die that people may live. EVs rule & must be the yardstick of our compassion to...ourselves.


Overnight recharging on a system heavily dependent on hydro is less of an asset, relatively speaking, than overnight charging on system with a substantial percentage of coal generation. Hydro can more or less completely shut off when demand is not there -- saving the water behind the dam for use when there is more demand on the system (assuming the system has an impoundment -- not run of the river -- and that the impoundment holds less than enough water to sustain 24/7 max output operation until the next rainy season refills it) -- while coal systems traditionally need to maintain some minimum level of generation, even if demand is not present, because a cold start every morning is too difficult. Thus, with a coal system, if demand at night sinks below the baseline generation, there is "free" power to be had. But this does not exist with hydro.

In general, there are two major constraints on daytime charging -- generation capacity (i.e. plenty of water behind the dam, but not enough turbines to run at once at moments of peak demand) and distribution capacity (i.e. plenty of water and turbines, but not enough high tension wires to bring the demanded electricity to the city). To the extent a hydro system faces either or both constraints, then night-time charging makes sense. But to the extent neither of those constraints operates, you don't have a baseload "freebie" of which to take advantage, and night charging is no more advantageous than day charging.



Good points re coal & hydro power. Most of the hydro-power in the Pacific Northwest is from run-of-the-river dams on the Columbia, so they're really base-load plants with seasonal variations in flow/capacity. There isn't much undeveloped hydro capacity left in the US.


Every time I drive along the Columbia River I look for the new windmills along the ridges. It's very encouraging. But ... the wind doesn't always blow. The choice for new base load capacity is still between coal and nuclear. OK, it's not a very pleasant choice, but that's what we have. It's not that I like nuclear power, but I really hate coal.

Kit P

Like every large city, Seattle has a large coal power plant near it. Being 'green' allows left coast cities to pretend plants like the 1100 MWe Centralia coal plant does not exist. There is a requirement that Washington State's windfarms be at least 100 miles from Seattle.

Like every large city, Seattle has a large coal power plant near it. Being 'green' allows left coast cities to pretend plants like the 1100 MWe Centralia coal plant does not exist. There is a requirement that Washington State's windfarms be at least 100 miles from Seattle.

Washington gets only 7% of its electricity from coal, dipass. 80% comes from hydro.

The coal plant is there because the state's only coal mine is there.

Knowledge cures stupidity.

There is a requirement that Washington State's windfarms be at least 100 miles from Seattle.



NBK-B, Kit P & JamesEE...Potshots at the best electric generation system are desperate attempts indeed. Run-of the-river dams are on the Columbia because they are integrated into the system & the monster Grand Coulee dam stores the water. Where ever you are, work hard to get your electrical sources from renewables. Don't let your own fudge answers get in the way. Sure the wind doesn't blow all the time. Thats all been factored in. That's why I mentioned solar panels too. Do I also have to mention the coming tidal & wave electric production sources.

The coming EVs will come with high density electric storage batteries & ultracapacitors....the same Storage Units that will store electricity from renewable electric sources. Yes, I will ride on the water, wind & the sun(waves & tides too) sooner than many people. But make my goal your goal. Work for renewables in your area.


A better investment for Seattle would be mass transit, and curbing urban sprawl and long distance single occupant commutes.

Mass transit is far superior to 10,000 PHEVs. Mass transit offers the best return on investment. Seattle residents recently rejected a proposed monorail system, and seems to offer little to no alternative but an ever expanding, unsustainable highway system.

Work the problem back to the source. Too many people have scattered themselves more than 30min away from work, school, shopping, etc. You need walkable communities. You have to reorganize society and get people out of 1 ton steel cocoons, PHEV or otherwise.

A walk, cycle, bus, light-rail commute beats the best PHEV commute you can buy.


Agree with you, GM....Seattle has a long bad history of mass transit rejection. In the early 70's they rejected a proposal in which they would have had 2 thirds of a billion Federal dollars with no strings attached for a system. Doesn't sound like much, but back then it was. Portland, Oregon inherited Seattle's defaulted position(& money) & produced the MAX transit system. Without a rail transit system, Seattle's Alaska Way Viaduct & the 520 floating bridge are fearfully ancient & still no response from Seattle folk except to wring their hands.
If only Seattle folk drove 1 ton steel instead of their 2 tonners that are 50% longer than my car. I stay away from Seattle & am thinking about driving an electric bike to work in Everett.
The problem with mass transit is that it is often not rapid transit. I had a pretty good idea in my architecture class 30 years ago, but it would have been v. dependent on automatic systems which didn't have very good reliability back then.


So sad Seattle is so stunningly situated that it doesn't have a mass transit system in harmony with its natural splendor with the backdrop of the Olympic peninsula, Mt. Rainier, and the Cascades.

Do not despair the rapidity of mass transit. Look a little bit north to Vancouver, BC, for an example of an elevated, grade-separated, light-rail mass transit system which moves riders very quickly. The SkyTrain even allows riders to take bicycles aboard for multi-modal trips.

A friend I know commutes daily from North Seattle(Shoreline) Park&Ride, to downtown, and seems to be satisfied with the duration. If you take your homework, or reading material on the bus, you can turn your commute time into some productive work, which is something you can never do when you're the lone driver in a car.

Once critical high-speed transit infrastructure is in place, people are drawn to housing developments alongside or nearby to take advantage of the high-speed commute that it offers.

Mass transit riders can round out their transportation needs with car sharing cooperatives for those odd occasions when you need to haul large, bulky items, or need to travel to some out of the way destination. A PHEV are great candidates for car sharing.

Electric bikes are hot! I love them. They're right-sized. You have chosen well!


Hi gm...Yeah, along with being totally tardy starting a mass transit system, Seattle is squeezed between 900 foot deep Puget Sound & 200 foot deep Lake Washington as well as being built on steep hills rising to 500+ feet. Even a cheap mass transit system gets expensive when bridging over or tunneling under bodies of water & tunneling through hills.


Well...well...You can tell how proud I was in my posts above that my Northwest U.S. would play a great role in expansion of renewable power sources, reporting Oct. 24 that our Columbia River terrain had a potential 6000MegaWatts of wind power to develop. Now I read reports that India is striving to add 40,000 Megawatts of power per year to continue its rapid growth! Most of this power jump will be supplied by coal plants. & China will add 1000 coal-fired plants to fuel its economic expansion! China's expansion is so frightful that tho they are the largest coal producer in the world, they are now a coal 'IMPORTER'!

Wow! 'Woe is us...all of us on the good ship planet Earth'? Maybe we can get them all to use florescent litebulbs...ha ha ha Woe is us.


Continueing its history against mass transit & transportation issues, Seattle right now is voting down an election for massive transportation infrastructure improvements that included the beginnings of a light rail line integrated into a new 520 bridge system across Lake Washington as well as many other major improvements. The plan was powerful & probably not cost effective. However, Seattle will continue its misery, trapped between 2 large bodies of water.


GCC just reported that Google will help develope renewable energy sources as or cheaper than coal! Hope they can do it. Renewable sources are coming down in price. With Google's help maybe they can come down in price quicker.

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