With major grant, Seattle gets ready to drive electric

electric car2Thanks to a $99.8 million grant—part of a $2.4 billion grant program announced yesterday by President Obama and the U.S. Department of Energy—Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) will establish 2,550 charging systems for electric vehicles in the Seattle area and four other metropolitan areas around the country. The charging stations represent the largest electrification project in the history of transportation.

“This news heralds the end of the filling station and the beginning of the era of the charging station,” said Mayor Greg Nickels. “We are going to be leaders in converting our transportation from oil to electricity. We started with the Seattle streetcar and made giant strides last month with the opening of light rail. And now we’ll make it simple to drive a car powered by clean City Light electricity.”

Setting the stage for today’s announcement, Nickels and Nissan North America signed an agreement last April to make Seattle one of the first markets to introduce the Nissan LEAF – a zero-emission, all-electric car. In return, Seattle pledged to take regulatory and other steps to get ready for the arrival of Nissan’s electric car in October 2010.

Electric automobiles in Seattle will be powered by electricity from Seattle City Light, the first large utility in the United States to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. At current residential electricity rates, the Nissan LEAF would cost approximately $190 to drive 10,000 miles, or just under 2 cents a mile. To drive the same distance in a car that gets 25 miles per gallon – the 2008 national MPG average – would cost approximately $1,100 at $2.76 per gallon, the current average cost of gasoline in Seattle.

For answers to frequently asked questions about plug-in vehicles, click here. To view a timeline of Seattle’s journey to electric transportation, click here.