ALLENTOWN, PA - PPL Electric Utilities has added three Chevrolet Volts to its fleet as part of a national research project to evaluate the new plug-in electric vehicles before their wider market availability.

The utility purchased a total of 64 electric vehicles (including the Volts), supported by federal matching grants, which it could use in 40 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.

The company plans to collect data on the use of the three vehicles over the next three years in its 29-county service territory across central and eastern Pennsylvania. During the study, PPL Electric Utilities will provide the car to select employees for their daily use. Company researchers are seeking insights into driving habits, actual operating costs, and energy consumption, and how best to charge electric vehicles to minimize any negative effects on the electric grid.

"As a utility, we want to be ready for the full-scale commercialization and deployment of electric vehicles and learn how they will likely be used by our customers and how they may affect the electric system," said David G. DeCampli, president of PPL Electric Utilities. "Taking part in this utility collaborative with GM allows us to test the Chevy Volt's performance year-round where our employees and customers live."

The Volt currently isn’t for sale in Pennsylvania, so the pilot program gives the company the utility to get a first look at the vehicles. The company will provide updates on its findings at

The program was made possible with a $30.5 million grant from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.