Senator Lamar Alexander has put his money where his energy policy mouth is and shelled out the $10,000 it costs to have a Prius converted by A123 Systems to a plug-in type hybrid. The senator says he gets 30 miles out of the lithium ion battery before the engine is called upon to do some work. Having only a 5 or 6 mile daily commute, Alexander has burned about half a tank a gas since sometime last July which is just a bit less than his former vehicle, a leased Nissan Maxima, would have burned. Of course, his motivation for the innovative installation was not to save money but to illustrate what is possible.

Having worked with the TVA for many years, Alexander is well aware that the rather large Tennessee Valley region has an unused nighttime electricity capacity that is equal to the output of six or seven nuclear plants. He hopes that a lot of that energy can go to power transportation vehicles in the future and help offset imported oil. Although he believes this goal will take 15 to 20 years to achieve, he calculates that if half of our current fleet of cars and trucks had similar capabilities as his shiny black Prius, we could cut our oil imports by 4 to 5 million barrels a day - just about half. This, of course, would be great but we hope it happens a lot sooner than 2028.

[Source: US News and World Report]

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