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Q&A: Speaking With an Electric Car Expert

Jill Sorensen, executive director of the Baltimore-Washington Electric Car Initiative will participate in a round-table discussion at the third annual Solar and Wind Expo at the fairgrounds this weekend.

Jill Sorensen considers electric cars to be the “new frontier” of renewable energy inititatives that will help Maryland meet the governor’s aggressive energy consumption goals.

Sorensen is the executive director of the Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative. She will be participating in a roundtable discussion Friday morning at the third annual Solar and Wind Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

But first, we wanted to set the scene and tease just some of the points Sorensen would be addressing this weekend.

Patch: Can you give me an overview of the electric vehicle industry in Maryland?

Sorensen: Maryland really is in a frontier position where electric vehicles are concerned. Reducing emissions, reducing our dependence on petroleum—those things go hand in hand in addition to a very fun ride. The price point is a little high still on the vehicle but we have some tax incentives at the state and federal level, but we think we’ll see just like most other emerging technologies that when production and demand go up the price will drop with it. The first computers were pretty expensive.

Maryland is one of the leading states in the country for electric vehicles to meet its renewable portfolio standard. We set aggressive standards in Maryland. The governor is behind EV initiatives; The Maryland Energy Administration, Maryland Department of Transportation the Maryland Department of the Environment—we’ve had facilitation by the Public Service Commission, strong awareness on the part of utilities—particular PEPCO and BGE. I would say in the last two years in particular we’ve really come quite a distance with a significant presence of EVs.

Patch: What is the big push? Why are electric cars the way to go in part to get us to that renewable energy portfolio standard?

Sorensen: I would attribute this to three things:

-Highly educated and concerned citizenry that understand the impact of emissions from vehicles and architecture. And that has an impact on our environment, on the Chesapeake Bay.

-Second, I would say congestion. Not just congestion on the grid but traffic congestion and awareness of mitigating that. Malcolm Woolf, the director of the Maryland Energy Administration, would cite that we—the Mid-Atlantic—are the most congested grid space and that’s an issue for us. The power does go out. We’ve got to think about how we consume and manage energy in whatever form.

-The third, I would say, is Maryland’s affinity for emerging technology. We’ve got a really strong research base, strong in emerging technologies and incubators, business incubation, our proximity to Washington D.C. and a depth capacity for legislating behaviors that need encouragement.


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