Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Electric Cars in the Mid-South

Good news in today's Commercial Appeal...

Wharton, suburban mayors want to make Memphis leader for electric vehicles
By Wayne Risher

Mayor A C Wharton and his suburban peers are advocating Greater Memphis as a proving ground for electric vehicles and charging stations.

They believe the region can win out as one of 15 demonstration communities nationally for an electric vehicle initiative under consideration by Congress.

Mid-South CHARGE (Council to Help Advance the Regional Growth of Electrification) touts Memphis as a global logistics hub "uniquely positioned to take advantage of this opportunity."

In letters Tuesday to congressional delegations, the council wrote, "(T)he Mid-South is well-prepared, willing and eager to adopt electric vehicles once laws are in place to make their development, purchase and regular use more attainable."

Also signing were Shelby County Mayor-elect Mark Luttrell, Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner, Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy, West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson, Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson, Memphis Light Gas and Water Division President Jerry Collins, Greater Memphis Chamber President John Moore, Workforce Investment Network Director Desi Franklin and University of Memphis President Shirley C. Raines.

Wharton convened the leaders at a recent meeting to discuss a unified application for the initiative. They met with FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith, a champion of the electric vehicle's role in enhancing economic and national security.

Wharton said, "The energy policy and transportation policy of this region and our nation is not going to be perfected on a county-by-county and city-by-city basis. It's going to be regional, particularly when it comes to the technology needed to make electric cars and other non-fossil fuel sources of energy available to the masses."

The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act is under review by House and Senate committees. Deployment communities would be chosen from competitive applications, and grants would help them develop charging stations, offer consumer incentives and shift government fleets to plug-in electric vehicles.

"If we could get grants to do the infrastructure in this Memphis metropolitan area, it would prove to the entire nation it could be done anywhere," said Hernando Mayor Johnson. "We're probably the last place on Earth people think would embrace electric cars."

Goldsworthy agreed that freedom from foreign oil has bipartisan appeal. "A regional approach affords the mass, density and support to demonstrate the viability of vehicle electrification."

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