Austin Energy, the public utility in the Texas capital, wants plug-in hybrids to do more than reduce fuel consumption in the area. The city hopes that the vehicles can get charged during the off-peak hours at night, then return a few watts to grid during peak hours. Officials realize the time frame involved before plug-in hybrids become commonplace on the streets.

"But the concept is solid," said an Austin Energy official.

Austin is taking the lead in promoting plug-in hybrids. Plug-in Partners was founded in Austin. It's a national coalition of governments, businesses and non-profit groups dedicated to proving there is a market for PHEVs.

Under the energy swap plan, the vehicle owners would be charged for electricity at night and credited during the afternoon. The goal is to provide renewable energy during the night.

This is not a new idea. An associate professor from the University of Delaware wrote about vehicle-to-grid concepts 10 years ago.

[Source: Elizabeth White / Associated Press via Herald Democrat]

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