Bill promotes use of hybrid cars

A Nevada Senate panel voted Thursday for a measure that would help to promote plug-in hybrid cars by letting them use car pool highway lanes even if only one person is in the vehicle.

AB163, routed to the Senate floor on a unanimous vote by the Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, was proposed by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, who described it as a toned-down version of a bill that didn't win approval in 2007.

Under Ohrenschall's plan, the state Transportation Department would determine which low-emission, energy-efficient vehicles could use the high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes.

There are about five miles of such lanes in the Las Vegas area now, and Ohrenschall said that could to increase to 15 miles within a year, he said, adding, "So it's going to become more of an incentive to purchase these vehicles."

The lawmaker also said the bill would make it optional rather than mandatory for authorities to allow the hybrids in the HOV lanes.

That way, the hybrids could be cut off from the HOV lanes if they got too crowded, he said.

Of an estimated 2.3 million vehicles registered in Nevada, there are only about 11,400 hybrid autos, lawmakers were told.

In related action, an organization promoting a zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, corridor on about 240 miles of Interstate 80 between Berkeley, Calif., and Reno held a brief news conference outside the Legislature to discuss that effort.

Susan Clark of the Renewable Energy Accelerator said the University of California and Nevada System of Higher Education have agreed to develop a feasibility study for the corridor.

The study will focus on charging stations and other infrastructure needs as well as government involvement in setting up the corridor.

"We have now assembled the best and brightest in Nevada, while engaging our neighbors in California, to leverage its renewable energy resources, excellent business climate and sophisticated networks to make sure that northern Nevada is the epicenter of an accelerated American ZEV economy," Clark stated.


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