Photo: Electric vehicle charging station / Christina X. Chin / Courtesy of Intel Corporation

In a letter she wrote yesterday, Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell asked the chairman of the Department of Public Utility Control to work closely with utilities and automakers to prepare for the arrival of electric vehicles (EVs) onto the market.

"It is critical that Connecticut actively engage in the ongoing dialogue in order to maintain its national leadership in the adoption and integration of EVs and to ensure that the introduction of EVs do not have negative implications for transmission on Connecticut's electrical grid," Gov. Rell wrote.

Last week General Motors became the latest automaker to announce a partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and more than 30 electric power utilities to facilitate the development of electric vehicles. The partnership will address issues including when to charge the vehicle to get the best rate on the electricity and not overload the nation's power grid, how a car can be charged anywhere from across the United States to Canada, increasing public awareness and working with public policy makers so national policies encourage a transition from dependence on oil as a fuel source.

"This research program will help link a low-carbon generation portfolio and a smart grid, which in turn will facilitate widespread adoption of electricity as an alternative transportation fuel," Arshad Monsoor, EPRI's vice president of power delivery and utilization, said.

"It is increasingly clear that a large-scale roll-out of electrical vehicles is on our nation's short term horizon," Gov. Rell continued in the letter.

In June, GM's board of directors committed to producing the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car scheduled to start appearing in showrooms in late 2010. The company also plans to produce a plug-in version of the Saturn Vue.

"The introduction of EVs is unfortunately far more complicated than just providing an outlet for recharging vehicles. The benefits from the introduction of EVs demand proactive planning and preparation," Rell continued. "As you are well aware, Connecticut has undertaken significant projects to improve transmission congestion and reliability in our region. Introduction of EVs is certain to put new demands on our electrical grid. However, there clearly are strategies and actions that can be undertaken and implemented to reduce or eliminate the impact of EVs on our grid."

"That is why it is critical that the utilities in Connecticut be active participants in the ongoing dialog," she concluded.