Edward Kjaek, of Southern California Edison, was one speaker who talked on Saturday about the powerful potential of plug-in hybrids. SCE has been a supporter of plug-in cars for a long time, and Kjaek said SCE just passed 13 million overall EV miles, and the company fleet adds over 100,000 EV miles each month. The room was filled to overflowing during Kjaek's talk (part of a panel on various alternative energy sources for vehicles) and he recognized the value the people in the room have played and will continue to play in the changes ahead. He called hybrid drivers the "21st century test pilots" and said, "I can't pass up the notion that says that the activism in this country has been one of the core drivers of energy self-sufficiency in this country."
The biggest challenges to full-scale acceptance of PHEVs are the batteries, Kjaek said, but since two major automakers ( GM and Toyota) have announced intentions to make PHEVs in the last six months, these challenges will likely be overcome. For its part, Edison will be deploying 4.7 million smart meters by 2012, and all customers in California will be converted by 2013. Smart meters allow real-time pricing and communication between appliances and the grid.
"We [SCE] expect a carbon constrained future, not too far away actually," Kjaek said.