Want to own a hybrid car in California? It's going to cost you. 

So now what happens when California's green enthusiasts rush out to by all the new plug-in hybrids?  The state prides itself on its environmental consciousness, and as a result the cost of electricity in the state is really, really high. So the latest hybrid cars are going to cost Californians -- a lot:

Californians may end up paying the highest electricity rates in the country to charge their electric vehicles, a new study says.

The state's tiered rate system, in which customers are charged higher rates as they use more electricity, could make plug-in hybrid and battery-powered vehicles more costly to own, according to a Purdue University study.

The study was unveiled as the first of the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are reaching consumers. Two vehicles, the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, started being delivered to their first customers last month.

Electric-car makers and utilities said most owners will probably charge their vehicles at night when the rates are lower. But because of the tiered rate system, their electricity bills will still probably be high. California households pay steeper rates for their electricity compared with other states — about 35% more than the national average, according to the study.
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"The tiered system was put in because California wanted to be green and discourage electricity consumption," said Wally Tyner, an energy economist and lead researcher on the study. "The unintended consequence is that it also discourages electric vehicles."

A plug-in hybrid Volt would increase the average household's electrical usage 60%, the study said. Although the study didn't explicitly examine all-electric vehicles such as the Leaf, "the same principle would apply," Tyner said.

California has its own special electricity tax, just implemented a state-wide cap and trade policy that's going to make prices sky rocket, and for decades hasn't been building nearly enough power plants to meet the state's electricity needs. Aside from the rolling blackouts in the state a decade ago that effectively resulted in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis a decade ago, the high electricity costs nearly shut down the city government in L.A.

 

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Mark Hemingway

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