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How Do You Get From Dallas to Houston in an Electric Car? Wait About Five Years.

When you set aside any aesthetic hangups and knee-jerk assumption that any vehicle without an internal combustion engine is a piece of junk, it's pretty hard to argue that electric cars aren't a good idea. If we're are going to drive anyway -- and current habits and decades worth of automobile-centric infrastructure say we will -- then it makes a lot of sense to move away from a technology that spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, poisons the air we breathe, and leaves us bent over some dictator's oil barrel.

That's been happening in Texas, but some major hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles remain, one of which is spotty infrastructure. While major metro areas in Texas like Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio are filling with charging stations (perhaps too many), there aren't many in the in-between areas, and no one wants to drive to Houston only to run out of juice and get stuck in Corsicana.

So a year ago, with $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Initiative, the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies began work on the Texas Triangle Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan.

The plan was scheduled to be done by Friday for a public meeting at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, but it wasn't quite done. There is, however, a draft summary of recommendations that is ready.

The details get a bit wonky -- for example a proposal to encourage electric vehicle fleets "to participate in the ERCOT ancillary service market through a managed charging program" -- but there are some interesting takeaways.

For one, development of enough charging stations along the Texas Triangle's major corridors that drivers won't have to worry about running out of power will take at least five years longer on Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas and I-10 between Houston and San Antonio. There's also a recommendation in there to create "PEV Friendly Community" program, a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that publicly recognizes municipalities with good electric infrastructure. Also, the plan proposes a law that would give a direct subsidy of $2,500 for the first 1,000 purchasers of electric vehicles to people living in air-quality non-attainment areas. (Air-quality non-attainment is EPA bureaucratese for "really polluted.") And other stuff.

The meeting's at 1 p.m. at NCTCOG offices in Arlington. Drive your electric car. Just make sure it has a good charge.


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