Hyattsville cost-saving effort sparks plan for electric cars -- Gazette.Net


Paying $3,000 per year to fuel a parking-enforcement vehicle doesn’t make sense financially or environmentally, said Jim Chandler, Hyattsville’s director of community and economic development. So, the city put a new plan into gear.

For the past three months, officials worked to reduce the gas costs of its government vehicles. They determined that by replacing a 1999 Ford Taurus, which was driven about 10 hours per day, they could significantly cut costs by using battery-powered vehicles.

As part of the Maryland Smart Energy Communities program administered by the Maryland Energy Administration, Chandler said, the city applied for a grant to fund electric vehicles that cost about $15,000 and don’t require gas.

The city is expected to receive $59,113 from the Maryland Energy Administration to fund three Polaris GEMs electric vehicles, Chandler said.

Rockville uses a Polaris GEM for parking operations, Chandler said.

At the Sept. 16 Hyattsville City Council meeting, the council voted to purchase three electric vehicles at a cost not exceeding $52,362, anticipating the funds from the Maryland Energy Administration. Two vehicles will be used for parking compliance. The third, equipped with a storage container, will be used to conduct property and rental inspections.

The cars are expected to be on the road by mid-November.

The third vehicle replaces a 1995 Chevrolet S-10, a compact pickup truck that cost about $2,500 per year in fuel, Chandler said.

Maintaining the new cars will require about $100 per year, and additional costs, such as vehicle charging, will be “minimal,” he said.

Twenty-six Maryland municipalities are enrolled in the Maryland Smart Energy Communities program, said MEA spokeswoman Devan Willemsen. To receive funding, municipalities must adopt a set of policies specified by the Maryland Energy Administration.

“We’re very pleased to see Hyattsville taking this proactive step,” Willemsen said.

Chris Rice, a program manager at the Maryland Energy Administration, said the state program is designed to give incentives for local governments to adopt and commit to energy-efficient policies.

“Our main concern is getting policies established and passed to encourage [municipalities] to continue to do these things,” Rice said.

Hyattsville has two employees responsible for parking compliance, Chandler said. They split time operating the Ford Taurus — which recently broke down — and working on bike or foot.

“We’ll be able to effectively manage and get better coverage,” Chandler said.

Hyattsville has about 80 vehicles, including trash trucks, police cars and buses. Chandler said it would be difficult to replace other vehicles with eco-friendly alternatives, but the city is looking for ways to cut gas costs, such as with propane-powered vehicles.

“It’s our first step,” Chandler said.