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New Canaan approves hybrid school bus, electric car station

Updated 10:31 am, Tuesday, April 17, 2012
  • General Motor's Stephen Marlin demonstrates using a public recharging station to charge up a Chevy Volt from the 2012 Albany Auto Show Times Union Center in Albany March 9, 2012. New Canaan will get a similar charging station installed in the Morse Court Parking lot. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) Photo: John Carl D'Annibale, Albany Times Union / ONLINE_YES
    General Motor's Stephen Marlin demonstrates using a public recharging station to charge up a Chevy Volt from the 2012 Albany Auto Show Times Union Center in Albany March 9, 2012. New Canaan will get a similar charging station installed in the Morse Court Parking lot. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) Photo: John Carl D'Annibale, Albany Times Union

 

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The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved two green automotive initiatives for New Canaan Tuesday morning. The first approval was the purchase of the long-awaited hybrid school bus and the second was the installation of a new electric car charging station in the Morse Court parking lot.

"The whole idea of this is to just have another reason for people to come into town," First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said. "I think it shows that we are a progressive and green-thinking town. I think if this goes well, we may look into for other areas of town."

The board approved a letter of agreement with Connecticut Light & Power, under which CL&P has offered to pay for the purchase of the Electric vehicle supply equipment. The town will pay a total of $4,625 for the installation of the EVSE, conduit and concrete pedestal.

Assistant Director of Public Works Tiger Mann said the charging station will be placed on the Main Street side of the parking lot at the midpoint.

Mann also said it will cost $1.75 for a full day's charge.

The idea for the hybrid school bus was introduced by Roy Walder, the school district's transportation coordinator, nearly 10 months ago.

According to the agreement with the state and bus company Dattco, the town would be responsible for paying the cost of a standard diesel bus, which makes up about $85,000 of the $145,931, while a state grant would pay for the hybrid engine, which costs $63,584. The bus would serve as a replacement, meaning a current bus would be cycled out of usage. The remainder of the cost for the bus would be recovered by the town after it leases it to Dattco Inc., the current school bus provider for New Canaan, for a period of two years. After those two years, the town would sell the bus to Dattco for a nominal fee.

Dattco would also be responsible for all maintenance and insurance costs of the vehicle, which is a 2013 model IC Bus, making this a cost-neutral initiative.

"Basically it operates much like a Prius-model car does these days," Walder said at a previous Town Council meeting. "The charging of the battery comes from stepping on the brakes, in essence, and that's what recharges the battery. So there is a diesel engine there (that kicks in) when you go at speeds at about 45 mph or above. But the buses used in town probably won't (reach that) pretty often."

"I'm estimating that we may be able to save at least about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year," Walder said. "Obviously that depends on what routes we put it on, how much time it's in service, since there are so many variables involved. What I did was, I kind of looked at how much fuel does an average bus use of the 35 buses we have in town, and based on that, my assumption is we'll save at least half the fuel, maybe more. But it ought to be at least half because it's supposed to be a very efficient (vehicle) run primarily on electric (power).

Walder said if he assumed gas was $4 a gallon, the savings would be at least $4,000 a year.

pjha@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413;www.twitter.com/pjhancnews