We were among the utilities that received a shout out at the White House on Nov. 18 for helping advance the electric vehicle market.

With U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who cited the industry’s progress and commitment to electric transportation, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) announced that 73 utilities have committed to spend at least 5 percent of their annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles.

For our part toward achieving that goal, next year we plan to purchase 15 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. We’ve been using three Chevy Volts since the summer of 2011 as part of an industry study to determine the effect of electric cars on the grid.

In September, we were awarded a $116,100 state grant toward the purchase of the Volts, which will be used for field visits and travel between work locations. They will replace 15 older gas-powered cars in our fleet.

The national recognition that the we and our industry peers received is appreciated as we continue our support for the growth of plug-in electric vehicles. We’re using them as part of our business and at the same time showing the public that electric cars are a viable and environmentally conscious means of transportation.

We were one of about 25 utilities in the research project led by the Electric Power Research Institute and General Motors that studied the effect of electric vehicles on the grid.

That study helped us determine that our infrastructure and delivery system can handle the commercial growth of these vehicles.