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Cantwell Applauds New Electric Car Options for Seattle Drivers


Location: Washington, DC

Says plug-in electric vehicles save consumers money and reduce foreign oil dependence

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the arrival of some of the country's first all-electric Nissan Leaf vehicles to the Seattle market. Plug-in vehicles can dramatically decrease America's greenhouse gas emissions and dangerous overdependence on foreign oil. These electric cars were brought to the U.S. market with the help of Cantwell's forward-thinking, bipartisan efforts in 2007 to provide a credit of up to $7,500 tax on the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles.

"Electrifying our nation's transportation system is the most promising way of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and opening the way to cleaner, cheaper transportation," said Senator Cantwell. "With Washington state already benefiting from some of the cheapest and cleanest electricity in the country, electric cars make sense, especially with transportation accounting for most of our air and carbon pollution. The plug-in electric vehicle tax incentive is fueling America's transition to electric transportation by making this technology available and affordable to more Americans."

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provided the funding necessary to get this paradigm-shifting technology off the ground by providing funding for the installation of thousands of electric vehicle charging stations. Seattle was chosen to receive this investment, and the first Nissan Leafs, because of the city's commitment to cleaner, cheaper transportation alternatives.

"Seattle is at the forefront of America's efforts to electrify our transportation sector, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new clean energy jobs," said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today in a statement. "Recovery Act funding for electric vehicle projects like this one are playing a critical role in accelerating the deployment of the Nissan Leaf and electric vehicle charging stations nationwide."

The Recovery Act funded half of a $230 million public-private Electric Vehicle (EV) Project, the largest deployment of electric vehicles and infrastructure in the country. The EV Project, managed by ECOtality North America, will install nearly 15,000 electric vehicle charging points and deploy 8,500 electric drive vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf, in Seattle and markets across the country. Through this project, ECOtality will collect and analyze data on vehicle use and charging infrastructure effectiveness. The company estimates that the project will save or create nearly 1,500 jobs.

For individual electric car drivers, this funding will provide the security of knowing that a charging station is nearby. In addition, purchasers of the Leaf vehicle can receive a 220-volt charging station in their home at no cost. In terms of "fill-up" costs, the Nissan LEAF would cost a Seattle City Light customer approximately $190 to drive 10,000 miles, or just under 2 cents per mile. To drive 10,000 miles in a car with average fuel economy would cost approximately $1,250 at today's gasoline prices. In 2007, Cantwell authored bipartisan legislation with Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Barack Obama (D-IL) that created a tax incentive of up to $7,500 for buyers of plug-in electric vehicles. The measure went into effect in October 2008 when it was included in a larger clean energy tax incentive package authored by Cantwell and Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and approved by the Senate by a vote of 92 to 3. Cantwell also led efforts to include tax incentives for plug-in electric vehicles and increased access to recharging stations for electric vehicle owners in the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

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