News & Updates


Electric vehicles rev up officials


Creating an efficient and affordable electric car will be a major environmental goal of the Obama administration, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson signaled Wednesday.

In a short visit to the Jim and Heather Gills YMCA, Jackson touted a $2.4 billion economic recovery program, which the president announced Wednesday in Indiana, to fund the development of electric cars and batteries to power them. No local companies received any of the 48 grants the government is awarding, but a North Carolina company called Saft America is receiving $95.5 million to build a manufacturing plant in Jacksonville.

The new plant could employ as many as 800 people in North Florida, said Thomas Alcide, an executive with Saft America. It will produce lithium ion batteries for military, industrial and agricultural vehicles.

"The global growth industry of the 21st century is clean energy," Jackson told reporters and business leaders.

Joining Jackson in St. Petersburg were U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Susan Cischke, who oversees Ford Motor Co.’s sustainability and environmental efforts. Ford is receiving a $30 million grant under the recovery program to develop and test electric cars.

One of the questions, Cischke said, is how much electric cars will affect America’s electrical grid system.

Progress Energy and 14 other utility companies nationwide are helping Ford with the grid tests, she said.