As City Hall Looks to Add Electric Vehicles to Fleet, a Host of "Complex" Issues to Consider

On Thursday we plugged into the city's interest in setting up electric-car charging stations on city property -- at City Hall, the downtown library, Fair Park, Dallas Love Field and Dallas Executive Airport -- with partners TXU and ECOtality, the latter a San Francisco-based company. As it turns out, per a briefing that'll be given to the council's Transportation and Environment Committee this afternoon, they're part of the city's ever-expanding Electric Vehicle Initiatives, which also include adding three EVs to the city fleet courtesy Colorado-based Boulder Electric. They'll get a yearlong test-drive via a Texas Commission of Environmental Quality grant, and the vehicles, seen above, come with three more charging stations.

Per today's briefing docs, anticipated uses include: "Code Compliance (two vehicles for nuisance abatement and removal of illegal dumping) and Equipment and Building Services (one truck for mobile service calls)."

According to Wednesday's council agenda the cost of the test-drive will be minimal, around $1,000, but limited to this year. After that, per the briefing docs, the city "may keep 2 of the 3 vehicles and all charging stations." They'd be added to a city fleet full of rides running on alternative fuels: 1,014 compressed natural gas vehicles, 597 biodiesel units, 84 standard-issue hybrids and 25 more that plug in.

And this is but the start: Council will be told today there are numerous "complex and wide-ranging issues" involved with making the move to plug-ins, among them: "Does the public pay the energy?" And: "Will parking spaces at charging stations be designated solely for EVs or for vehicles being charged?" And: "What permitting, inspection, and insurance requirements should we consider?" Which is why the City Manager's office is "convening a staff work group to develop EV policy recommendations for Council consideration late 2012."

Update: A friend suggests the Boulder Electric trucks look like the old Commuta-Van, which was electric and used in the 1979 film version of Lathe of Heaven ... which was shot in Dallas, including at Dallas City Hall. The circle is now complete.

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