Summerside on the move with e-cars

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It's about a community trying to connect its renewable energy initiatives: its wind turbines, and extending that idea to the city’s own fleet of vehicles.

The City of Summerside is doing just that and enhancing its reputation for being a green community in the process.

City council has approved the purchase of three electric vehicles to be used by the electric department.

The virtues of e-cars are well known. They reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, reduce pollution and are cheaper to operate.

The one knock on the vehicles when they first came out was the price. But like all new products on the market, as time goes by, the costs drop.

The city is spending $96,182 for three electric cars, roughly $32,000 a piece. That seems pretty comparable to other vehicles.

The problem the city had was finding the e-cars.

Municipal works director Greg Gaudet said there are few options available in the area and the city wanted to put dealerships on notice that this is the way Summerside is going.

“When you ask dealers when they will be available and when they’re coming to Canada, it’s almost like they’re non-existent,” Gaudet said. “The dealers have to have a minimum set number of cars before they’ll invest in a maintenance and service industry and until the dealers get that kind of a mass production of vehicles they won’t invest in service and even the manufacturers won’t help them set up to service these vehicles.”

To its credit, the city is putting dealerships on notice and pressure on the manufacturers that this is the way Summerside will be going in the future and its time for all the players to get on board and embrace the technology that is available in a big way.

Another key element to the vehicle purchase is the city’s intention to make these cars available to the public when not in use by city staff.

The city will be starting a car-share program that will allow citizens to experience what it is like to drive an electric car. Through a car-share program people can reserve vehicles either online or on the telephone. A person is given a code and they can use the vehicle.

The city has shown foresight in how it has developed its alternate energy resource.

It began with the wind farm and four wind turbines to generate power for the city’s electric utility. That exercise has been a major success.

Now, with charging stations scattered throughout the city and at Credit Union Place, the city is taking this technology a step further and marrying it with electric cars for its own use and as an educational tool for the public.

This move is clearly making Summerside a leader in integrating renewable energy technology with transportation and growing our reputation as a “‘green’ community.

Organizations: Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Summerside, Canada

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