Benefits vary for electric cars

April 16, 2012 at 3:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) -- What's under the hood of an electric car could be, in effect, a heavily polluting coal-burning power plant, a science group based in Washington said.

The Union for Concerned Scientists said in a new study that a gasoline-powered hybrid car would have less harmful global warming emissions than a similar-sized electrically powered car if that car was charged with electricity created at a heavily polluting power plant.

The study said 45 percent of the country has electricity generated by a mix of sources that would tip the scales toward an electrically powered car.

For example, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, an electrically powered vehicle charged up in the Pacific Northwest, parts of Alaska, California and New York -- with the exception of Long Island -- creates global warming emissions similar to a hybrid car that gets 70 miles per gallon.

On the other hand, "The Rocky Mountain grid region (covering Colorado and parts of neighboring states) has the highest emissions intensity of any regional grid in the United States, which means an electric vehicle will produce global warming emissions equivalent to a gasoline vehicle achieving about 33 mpg," the study said.

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