Search Santee Cooper

Transportation in the 21st century can be electrifying!


April 19, 2017   By Elizabeth Kress in

The electrically powered Proterra bus is manufactured in Greenville, S.C. and also at facilities in California.

Decarbonization strategies bring good news for electric utilities:  a need to electrify everything!

In order to minimize the cost of reducing carbon to each world citizen, perhaps the time has come to seriously consider electrifying  transportation, heating and industry as much as practically possible. 

For years, I thought electric vehicles only shifted pollution from the city to an electric generating station somewhere. Not true! With electric vehicles and renewables in combination, I drive carbon-free.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, recent changes in the electric utility sector have reduced carbon output by 5 percent for two years in a row. Also, the years 2015 and 2016 both saw 5 percent reductions in carbon from electric utilities. There are three trends which have made this possible:

  • Increased renewables
  • Energy efficiency
  • Natural gas replacing coal as a fuel

The shift from coal to natural gas was responsible for about one-half  the drop in carbon. Increased use of renewables helped contribute 40 percent of the reduction. Energy efficiency and other factors contributed the balance of the reduction in carbon.

As electric utilities continue along this path, transportation becomes the largest and possibly more difficult sector to decarbonize. Transportation as a whole can reduce carbon output by increasing public transportation, reducing transportation miles of any kind, allowing more workers to telecommute, increasing vehicle fuel economy, or moving transportation to be electricity driven.

If you’ve ever stood near a diesel bus as it pulled away from the curb, you can see and smell the emissions. Imagine fleets of electric buses to transport our children or drive along our bus routes. Electric buses, like those Proterra make, are manufactured right here in South Carolina.

It would be nice to have those same buses charging overnight at a Santee Cooper-powered depot. Light electric rail, such as that in Charlotte, could be a big benefit to reducing traffic along  Interstate 26. It is quiet, efficient and can be run emission free.

Think and learn about electric vehicles---and what they can do for us all.