/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company today joined electric utilities across the nation in an industry-wide initiative to advance electric transportation technologies. The initiative was developed to help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to support the full-scale commercialization and deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).
"Southern Company is committed to helping make plug-in electric transportation in this country a reality," said David Ratcliffe, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company. "The process to electrify our own fleet is underway and we will continue to deploy these technologies where appropriate."
Southern Company, the premier energy company serving the Southeast, is an enthusiastic supporter of electric/hybrid vehicles. Fleet organizations across the company's operating subsidiaries in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi currently have 20 hybrids in operation, including five hybrid bucket trucks, which offer quieter operations, better fuel economy and reduced emissions. The company also plans to field test 11 plug-in hybrid electric Ford-550 Trouble Trucks in 2011.
In addition, Southern Company is hosting a 36-month plug-in hybrid electric vehicle demonstration in a partnership with Ford, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the U.S. Department of Energy and 10 other utilities to help develop a pre-production PEV. The company is also researching into the effect of increased PEV use on the electric grid.
The initiative, launched in conjunction with "The Business of Plugging In" - a conference in Detroit this week on the commercialization of PEVs sponsored by DTE Energy, General Motors, and the University of Michigan, highlights the industry's commitment to help accelerate the penetration of PEVs in the United States by focusing on the following five arenas:
-- Infrastructure - Utilities will help ensure there are no system
impacts from fueling large numbers of plug-in vehicles from the power
grid. They also will help develop comprehensive local charging
-- Customer Support - Utilities will ensure that PEV customers receive
excellent customer care on questions ranging from charging mechanics
-- Customer and Stakeholder Education - Utilities will collaborate with
state and local officials, automakers and other stakeholders to
provide comprehensive education outreach to customers on all aspects
-- Vehicle and Infrastructure Incentives - Utilities will work closely
with federal, state and local stakeholders to encourage PEV
penetration, including purchase incentives, tax rebates, off-peak
charging rates and subsidized parking.
-- Utility fleets - Utilities will take significant steps to accelerate
the introduction of PEVs into their utility fleet operations.
In line with industry efforts to advance electric transportation technologies, Southern Company also will serve as the primary host company for the CALSTART 2009 Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Oct. 27-29 in Atlanta. The HTUF national conference brings together leading truck manufacturers, suppliers and fleets focused on producing and using medium- and heavy-duty hybrid-electric, hybrid-hydraulic, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles for commercial and military use.
In recognition of the growing importance of hybrid vehicles, Gov. Sonny Perdue has proclaimed the week of the conference "Hybrid Truck Week" in Georgia.
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