07/04/2011 - Former Michigan governor and clean/renewable energy missionary Jennifer Granholm stopped by the Sun-Times the other day to tell the Editorial Board that the cost of electric cars could be on par with the price of gas-powered autos as soon as 2017. If that’s actually within the realm of possibility, we are on the cusp of an energy revolution that could advance the cause of energy security and deal a significant blow to the political and economic clout of foreign oil.
Granholm, senior adviser to the Pew Clean Energy Program, was in town to tout, among other initiatives, bills introduced in Congress — including one in the House by Illinois Republican Rep. Judy Biggert — that would promote plug-in autos. The bills would help build an infrastructure of electrical charging stations, aid local governments and private companies in buying electric vehicles, implement marketing campaigns to encourage consumers to purchase them, and require federal agencies to acquire them. The Senate bill by Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander also provides grants for research for more efficient, cheaper batteries.
And we’ve seen other blue-sky predictions for alternative energy fall short. Remember the collapse of the Carter administration’s synthetic fuels project? Three years ago, Spain embarked on an ambitious solar program only to see it crash, with thousands of lost jobs, when Spain realized it had encouraged poorly designed solar facilities that could never survive without subsidies. The 2010 winter saw wind turbines serving 11 Minnesota towns hobbled by cold temperature.
That said, I hope the projection cited by Granholm is on target, or not off by more than a couple of years. Though I’m a conservative who opposes government picking winners and losers, I also worry about the national security implications of our dependence on imported oil. Yes, we get a lot of our petroleum from friendly places like Canada. But wherever we buy it, Americans support high oil prices that fund the nuclear weapons program of Iran, enrich promoters of radical Islamism like Saudi Arabia, and fatten the bank accounts of sheiks who finance terrorists.
Read the full editorial, Electric Cars Are Right for America, on the Chicago Sun-Times' Web site.