Boulder County, CO Purchasing More Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Hybrid vehicles improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Boulder County began purchasing hybrid vehicles in 2001 and has since converted a total of 15 vehicles in our fleet to hybrid power. In 2007, we purchased two additional hybrids. The additional cost of the more fuel-efficient vehicles is partially offset by government rebates of up to $3,434 per vehicle.
Plug-in Hybrids offer even greater fuel savings and reduced emissions. Still a somewhat experimental process, PHEV vehicles have an increased battery capacity to enable the vehicle to travel further using only electric power. The batteries are charged by plugging in the vehicle when parked, and during the first several miles they draw power from the electric grid, thus using less gasoline. Converting hybrid vehicles to plug-in hybrids results in impressive fuel savings and emissions reductions: the conversion reduces volatile organic compounds by 78 percent, carbon monoxide by 89 percent and carbon dioxide by 30 percent.
The system can access over 20 times more energy, and tests claim that average drivers will get 100 mpg with the plug-in hybrids.
Solar Plug-in Hybrids
Boulder County will purchase three electric hybrids in 2008 and will convert them to plug-in so that they may charge their batteries using electricity harnessed through the County's solar power system on the West Wing of the downtown County Courthouse. The County will test the vehicles' overall power usage, fuel economy, and benefit in terms of cost and environmental benefits. The project is funded through a Federal grant and is scheduled to last two years.
These vehicles will utilize a 10-kilowatt solar array and electricity stored in the electric grid to charge their batteries. The solar power system ties into the electric grid, allowing the County to buy and sell our electricity at market prices. Xcel Energy offers a rebate of $4.50 per watt for systems up to 10-kilowatts, which would translate into $45,000 of rebates to the County. Thus, after the rebate, the final cost of the program is estimated at $35,000.
Read more about the plug-in hybrid program and a related ethanol fuel program in the Ethanol Fuel Implementation Program summary (PDF).