LETTERS

The Baltimore Sun

No need to unplug the hybrid vehicles

Doug Manzelmann's editorial notebook ("Unplugged," Jan. 31) discusses many of the challenges facing President Barack Obama's goal of making plug-in hybrid vehicles part of the answer to America's dependence on imported oil. However, Mr. Manzelmann's analysis paints too pessimistic an outlook for plug-ins.

While the Chevy Volt may cost more initially than the Toyota Prius, that higher sticker price will be offset by the lower operating costs of the car and of its electric power system. Volt drivers whose commutes are less than 40 miles round-trip may ultimately need a GPS system to remember where their favorite gas station is.

Mr. Manzelmann's views on the effects of plug-ins on the nation's electric grid and on air pollution also display a fundamental misunderstanding of plug-ins and the grid.

One of the advantages of plug-ins is that they do not require specialized charging stations. Unlike previous electric cars, a simple 110-volt or 220-volt household plug can charge the car. As proponents of plug-ins have argued, the infrastructure they need is an extension cord.

And while the nation's electric grid may need to be modernized for other reasons, plug-in hybrids are not one of them. The Department of Energy recently published a study that found that millions of plug-ins could access the grid with no problematic impact on the electricity supply.

Finally, the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council conducted a study to measure the impact of plug-in hybrids on the nation's air pollution problem. This study found that in all parts of the country and no matter what the power generation source of electricity is, plug-ins are better for air quality than gas-powered cars.

Plug-in hybrids offer the first real chance to reduce our imports of foreign oil and could be the last chance for General Motors.

Fred Hoover, Annapolis

Plug-in hybrids aren't the solution

Kudos to Doug Manzelmann for his editorial notebook "Unplugged" (Jan. 31). Finally, people are beginning to realize that plug-in electric cars will not work.

The answer for the elimination of our dependence on foreign oil, at least for the foreseeable future, is to spend government and corporate money to develop more mechanically economical engines.

David Heston, Glen Arm

Who could blame Phelps for quitting?

It absolutely baffles me that while just a few short months ago, the media inundated the public with Michael Phelps' accomplishments, they now seem to be out to destroy this young man's career ("Snark attack," editorial, Feb. 6).

He is a young man who made this country proud. But if Mr. Phelps now decides to give up his swimming career, who could blame him?

Kim Filer, Perry Hall

In the tradition of the Bambino

Yet another Baltimore-born athlete has now admitted to ingesting a banned substance.

I have just recovered from the revelation that George Herman "Babe" Ruth, the greatest baseball player of them all, admitted to repeatedly and frequently using an illegal substance, alcohol, during the time when it was prohibited. And now there is Michael Phelps and his use of marijuana ("Phelps might face criminal charges," Feb. 4).

It would only be appropriate if Mr. Phelps' reputation suffered to the same extent that Babe Ruth's did.

Over the years, many ill-conceived laws have been stricken from the books because of their negative impact on our society.

Some still wait to be dealt with.

Sig Seidenman, Owings Mills

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