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USA: Increased Electric Car Use Sparks Fla. Energy Regulators’ Questions

Energy forecasters predict more and more Floridians will start driving electric cars. The state Public Service Commission met with electric car makers, utility company executives and energy policy researchers on Thursday to discuss the benefits and challenges of having more alternative-fuel vehicles on the roads.

Florida energy regulators heard presentations from several companies, each with something to gain from the expansion of electric cars. One of the presenters, General Motors, has sold about 20,000 hybrid Chevrolet Volts in the U.S.

GM’s Britta Gross says the automaker expects more Floridians to buy rechargeable cars because drivers in the state are already seeing how much they can save on gas. She says one Volt owner in Fort Myers Shores is getting 100 miles per gallon. The more drivers who make the switch, she says, the less we depend on non-renewable fossil fuels.

“We have done something very, very important in this industry, and it’s moving miles over from gasoline that’s imported over to electricity that’s made right here,” Gross says.

But Florida utility companies, including Gulf Power and Florida Power and Light, are more cautiously optimistic about the largely unregulated expansion of electric and hybrid cars. When the cars are plugged in to recharge, sometimes for eight hours straight, they draw from the grid.
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