In an environmentally-friendly and cost-saving move, City of Oakdale employees could soon be ridding greener thanks to a rebate program offered through the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The Oakdale Police Department is considering purchasing one or more electric scooters for short-distance trips within the city to avoid driving gas powered vehicles.
The vehicles would cost the city around $2,300 each, but they would be 100 percent reimbursed by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Public Benefit Grant Program. The program would also reimburse two batteries at a cost of $800.
The district’s Public Benefit Grant Program offers reimbursement on new purchases of alternatively fueled vehicles made by public agencies. Cities, school districts, counties, water districts and other public agencies are eligible for $20,000 reimbursement per vehicle, up to $100,000 per year. The grant applies to electric, hybrid, CNG, LNG and LPG powered vehicles.
“It has been very well received. We have somewhere around 35 to 40 applicants so far,” said Todd DeYoung, program manager for the air pollution control district.
DeYoung said that the Public Benefit Grant Program is relatively new, but it has been popular throughout the air district. Public agencies have applied for reimbursement for everything from Segways (scooters) to Toyota Prius cars to small electric shuttle buses. The program is first-come, first-served and is paid for through the new DMV surcharge fees. The goal of the program is to supply public agencies with a form of lower-emissions transportation.
“It’s just another strategy to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley,” DeYoung said.
Neither the City of Oakdale nor the Oakdale Police Department have filed an application for the Public Benefits Grant Program just yet. Police Chief Marty West said that they were considering the program but had not made any final decisions. He did say, however, that the program could potentially save the city money and help the environment.
“Our goal would be to avoid driving trucks on short trips where only one person will occupy the vehicle,” West explained.
Parking enforcement, for example, could use small electric vehicles instead of driving a city truck from one location to another during enforcement checks. West and Sgt. Kerri Redd recently tried the Trikke, an electric powered 3-wheel vehicle that the rider stands on during use. The Trikkes have an electric powered engine and can reach speeds of up to 16 miles per hour. Their range varies up to 24 miles in one charge. The Trikke can also be manually powered by the rider “carving” from side to side, similar to downhill skiing. Under human power, it can go much farther on one charge.
“We really want to replace those single-occupant short distance trips where there is no need for a larger vehicle. Getting people out of their cars for that type of trip is important,” said Trikke representative Laura Bone
West, Bone, and Redd took two Trikkes out for a spin to get a feel for the vehicles. Redd brought along her daughter Krystin Redd, a Police Department Explorer, to test the Trikkes. Both Redds took quickly to the vehicles and said that they enjoyed the experience.
“I think that these would make a good addition, but we’re still thinking about it,” Sgt. Redd said.