With the backdrop of devastated communities and ecosystems in the Gulf, President Obama took the opportunity to challenge the nation to move our clean energy transition forward–but what would that look like?

Marc Spitzer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) makes his case for a transformation of our vehicle fleet to plug-ins. He is confident that America has the technology to power 20 million plug-in vehicles in the next five years.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

But is it all that easy? Maybe, maybe not. Can our outdated electrical grid withstand the demand of that many vehicles? What would the real carbon reductions be? According to the California Air Resources Board, a kilometer’s worth of PHEV charge should on an average result in just 43% reduction in carbon dioxide as compared to gas.

Join the debate at Planet Forward

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.