Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the City of Bellevue hosted the debut of the 2010 Nissan LEAF on Dec. 11. LEAF is an all-electric family-sized hatchback that is expected to be on sale in five U.S. markets by December 2010.

It features advanced battery technologies and other innovations and is expected to have a 100 mile range between charges, sufficient to meet the needs of most commuters.

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.

"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,"said Steve Reynolds, president and CEO of PSE.

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.

The nation's second-largest utility owner and operator of wind power, 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.

PSEs PHEVs join 48 conventional hybrid vehicles in PSEs 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.