• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Electric cars to flood streets in near future

February 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
In about a year, you'll notice more and more electric vehicles popping up on the streets as consumers get energy savvy.In about a year, there will be more electric vehicles available to the public than ever before, like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, each estimated to cost between $30,000 and $40,000 after tax incentives.

They're seen as an environmentally sound, because electricity can be a cleaner way to power vehicles.

"At Southern California Edison, we have the nation's largest renewable portfolio, so about 16 percent of our resources come from renewables, and about 40 percent of our resources don't have any greenhouse gas impact," said Pedro Pizarro of Southern California Edison.

Some electric cars are already out on the road, like the Mini E.

Last June, Eyewitness News interviewed consumer Peter Trepp about his Mini E. He says his monthly electric bill went up by about $35 to $40, but he then had solar panels installed on his house so now he's essentially charging his Mini with free power.

Away from home, Trepp and the others driving Mini Es can pull into any of eight mini dealerships for a quick charge up.

And as more electric cars start populating the roads, there will likely be an increase in public charging stations to give drivers the power they need to get around.

Before long, there could be thousands of electric vehicles on the road and many people have wondered what's going to happen to the power grid when all these cars have to be recharged. The power industry says not to worry because they're ready.

Initially, there'll be very few electric cars, which won't be a problem.

"But as we look at the massive rollout of electric vehicles, toward the end of the decade, issues around how to make sure customers are plugging in when it makes sense for the grid so we can manage this well are the kinds of things that we're looking at right now," said Pizarro.

The utilities say they'll also work to make it more cost effective to drive electric with things like off-peak charging.

"Customers with a time-of-use meter that can keep track of when that power is being used, they can rate the time of use for the whole house," said Pizarro. "Another option would be to install a second meter and have a rate that's dedicated just for that electric vehicle."

Yes, the coming wave of electric vehicle drivers will have higher electric bills, but they won't be buying gasoline either.