Electric car makes the rounds

TOWN OF NAPLES SECRETARY — Kate Matthews had the chance to test drive an electric car on a rainy day. All last week, the Town of Naples got to borrow the Nissan Leaf from the Greater Portland Council of Governments (CPCOG). The first comment most people made about the vehicle is how quiet it is. (Photo Courtesy of Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak)

TOWN OF NAPLES SECRETARY — Kate Matthews had the chance to test drive an electric car on a rainy day. All last week, the Town of Naples got to borrow the Nissan Leaf from the Greater Portland Council of Governments (CPCOG). The first comment most people made about the vehicle is how quiet it is. (Photo Courtesy of Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The electric car has been making the rounds.

In July, employees at the Casco Town Office got to take the Nissan Leaf for a spin. Also, Casco borrowed the car during the weekend of Casco Days, and the clean energy vehicle made an appearance in the parade.

In August, staff from the Naples Town Office had the opportunity to test drive the 100% electric car.

The vehicle was made available to towns through the Greater Portland Council of Governments (CPCOG). Typically, each town got free use of the Leaf for a week.

In Naples, the first and most frequent comment was how quiet the engine runs.

Last week, Naples Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter and Town of Naples Secretary Kate Matthews took the Leaf to Point Sebago Resort.

“It was fun to drive,” Carter said.

When she and Matthews stepped back outside into the afternoon heat, they decided that air conditioning was in order.

However, when they turned on the AC, the vehicle’s battery charge dropped by 10%, Carter said.

Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak also got behind the wheel of the rather roomy model.

“I think it is a really nice car. Everything I have read about it is good. It has low emissions,” he said.

“The only limitation is the 80-mile range,” he said.

He said that range makes it more difficult for rural residents to embrace the electric car.

“Maybe in a couple of years, the technology will improve. Maybe, they will come out with an electric car with a 200-mile range,” he said.

“That (the limited range) is the only downfall for more rural towns like Naples versus Portland,” Paraschak said.

Carter agreed that the cutting-edge technology just wouldn’t cut it for most people in rural Maine.

“The problem with cars like that in Maine is that they can only travel so far before needing a recharge,” she said.

It could work well if a person lived and worked in Portland, where commutes are shorter, she said.

Paraschak said that since the Town of Naples has just started its new fiscal year, it will not invest in infrastructure for charging electric cars.

The town might examine the cost of putting in charging stations in the 2015 budget, he said.

“I just wanted to test it out before GPCOG didn’t have it anymore,” Paraschak said.

At Casco’s Town Meeting in June, residents approved $4,000 to be spent on the installation of charging stations at three potential locations. The concept is to cater to owners of electric cars, offering them a place to plug in and utilize town services and private businesses while their vehicle is charging for a few hours.

Recently, the Town of Standish invested in electric car charging stations.

 

 

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