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December 13, 2013

Beverly to get five electric cars

BEVERLY — Some city workers will soon be driving around town in electric cars.

State officials came to Beverly City Hall yesterday to announce that the city is one of 20 municipalities to be awarded a grant to help buy electric vehicles.

Beverly will receive $45,000 toward the cost of five new vehicles and a charging station. The city will pay the bulk of the cost, about $150,000.

Three of the cars will be plug-in hybrid vehicles, which use an electric battery and gas, and two will be all-electric vehicles.

“We’re delighted,” said Mayor Bill Scanlon, who hopped into an electric Smart car outside City Hall to pose for pictures after the announcement.

“We were a little slow to pick up on this. We used to cycle our old police cars through the public works department. But when you think in a more global sense, this makes a lot of sense.”

Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the grants are part of the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

The grant money comes from a trust fund that receives money from the $29 fee that drivers pay each year to have their cars inspected.

Kimmell said the program reduces some of the mystery and trepidation about buying electric vehicles when people see them being used by their city or town.

“A lot of people are going to see them and get over their anxieties,” he said.

Kimmell said electric and hybrid cars generally cost $3,000 to $5,000 more than gas-powered vehicles, but save money on gas in the long run.

The Smart car on hand at City Hall yesterday cost $25,750, not including rebates, and can travel up to 76 miles on one electric charge, officials said. The average person drives 30 miles per day, they said.

Beverly Purchasing Director David Gelineau said it has not been determined which city departments will use the vehicles, but mentioned building inspectors and public services as possibilities.

The electric charging station would be placed near City Hall and would take up two on-street parking spaces, Gelineau said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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