Weekly Feature



2017-10-12 / Front Page

Town officials detail plan for electric car fleet to win $250K in state funds

by ALAN RIZZO
Reporter


Cheektowaga Town Board members inspect a 2017 Chevrolet Volt during a break in their work session on Tuesday. The electric vehicle is one model the town is considering in planning to build a fleet if awarded $250,000 in state grant funding for clean energy projects. The board heard details of the plans at its meeting. 
Photo by Alan Rizzo Cheektowaga Town Board members inspect a 2017 Chevrolet Volt during a break in their work session on Tuesday. The electric vehicle is one model the town is considering in planning to build a fleet if awarded $250,000 in state grant funding for clean energy projects. The board heard details of the plans at its meeting. Photo by Alan Rizzo In the competition to win $250,000 in state grant funding to use toward clean energy projects, the Cheektowaga Town Board heard Tuesday from staff on a plan for a fleet of sustainable electric vehicles.

In a presentation to board members, Rick Coburn, the town’s supervising code enforcement officer, said he envisions leasing 10 such vehicles, either hybrid or fully electric, which would be served by charging stations to be installed at Town Hall and the town’s recreation facility on Alexander Avenue.

He said the town would also construct a solar panel charging array to offset the cost of charging the vehicles, and to potentially generate energy that would balance the cost of using the vehicles.

“Virtually we would get the electric for free, recharge some of this power back to the grid to get a payment fee back, along with potentially sustaining our savings going forward and maintaining that electric fleet,” he said.

According to Coburn, a major goal of the town’s plan would be to educate the public on the use and capabilities of electric cars, to reduce a public stigma that they don’t measure up to gasoline-powered vehicles in terms of range.

“The biggest thing that I’ve sort of tried to accomplish is to change the mindset of the public to understand the value of electric vehicles, and how easy it is to have them,” he said. “Right now there’s a stigma about how long can they go. Most vehicles can range up to 400 miles. A typical charge for any one of these vehicles will get you minimally 50 miles, and our average usage per day is between 25 and 35 to 40 miles.”

Peter Johnston, the town’s assistant engineer, said the plan meets sustainability, collaboration and all other criteria needed to qualify for the $250,000, and said he felt the plan could serve as a model for other municipalities.

“People are going to look at this and they’re going to say wow, [the town] is going to save money, they’re eligible for grant money, they can do this without costing taxpayers any money,” he said. “Other communities are going to jump on board with this. It’s a natural progression.”

Coburn and Johnston’s plan received support from board members and Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, who, wary of a November application deadline, said after the meeting that the board may consider a resolution to apply for the $250,000 at its Tuesday, Oct. 24 meeting.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on that date. A work session at 5 p.m. will precede the regular meeting. Both will be held at Town Hall, 3301 Broadway.

email: arizzo@beenews.com

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