BELLEVUE, WA - Puget Sound Energy and the City of Bellevue hosted the King County debut of the 2010 Nissan LEAF on Dec. 10.

The all-electric hatchback is expected to be on sale in five U.S. markets by December 2010, including the Puget Sound area. The LEAF, which features advanced battery technologies and other innovations, is planned to have a 100 mile range between charges.

"Electric vehicles offer the chance to benefit the environment and the consumer by allowing transportation to be cleaner and less dependent on foreign oil," said Steve Reynolds, president and CEO of PSE. "As a utility, we are committed to ensuring that our energy resources and infrastructure will be ready as this next generation of cars and trucks hit the road."

PSE and the City of Bellevue, which is part of the C-7 New Energy Partnership (a consortium of local cities including Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton and Sammamish), are working with Nissan and its partner, eTec, in deploying charging stations throughout the C-7 region.

"Electric transportation will be a vital part of meeting our region's mobility needs while moving towards our greenhouse gas reduction targets," said Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger.

In October, eTec, a subsidiary of ECOtality, received a $100 million grant, in part to construct as many as 2,200 charging stations in the Western Washington, many to be served by PSE. The utility will assist with the roll-out of charging stations for the Nissan LEAF and other EVs, and is studying how the increased use of EVs may impact the demand for energy and the infrastructure to support it. PSE will be exploring how EV charging stations and renewable energy generating facilities, such as wind and solar power, work together to reduce the carbon emissions from the transportation system.

In addition to Nissan and eTec, PSE is working with other automakers, utilities, and government agencies and is also testing two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to help the utility better understand the energy demands and infrastructure challenges presented by greater use of electricity in transportation. PSE's PHEVs join 48 conventional hybrid vehicles in PSE's fleet, and the first hybrid service line truck, which entered service in April 2009. The vehicle, which is a heavy duty diesel-electric hybrid, is being used by the utility to restore power in routine and storm situations.