Chicago Suburb Offers Electric Vehicle Incentives

November 20, 2010

Oak Park is driving a green bargain.

Last week, the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees passed an ordinance that will allow drivers who own electric vehicles to park for free in 2011 and 2012.

Electric car being charged

Electric cars do not rely on gasoline to run and are better for the environment.

Electric car drivers will also receive free vehicle stickers.

“This action by Oak Park says we, as a community, have a collective vision for the future we hope our country will pursue,” said Village Manager Tom Barwin. “Whether you believe in energy independence or protecting the earth for future generations, every small step we take toward living more sustainable lives is an important one. Free parking may be one small step, but we expect it to be one of many.”

Oak Park has already taken many steps toward being an environmentally conscious community, including:

*Maintaining one of the region’s largest alternative-fuel municipal vehicle pools

*Building the state’s first certified green Public Works Center

*Converting traffic signals and emergency vehicle lighting systems to efficient LED

*Installing energy-efficient induction and solar-powered streetlights

*Installing Energy Star equipment in all municipal offices

*Installing new water meters that detect leaks and provide other water conservation tools

*Creating a community vegetable garden

Right now, there are only about six electric cars putting around Oak Park, but at least two charging stations are planned for the city through Commonwealth Edison and I-GO car sharing.

Barwin hopes this new ordinance will inspire more residents to go green.

“We realize this step is largely symbolic, given that all-electric vehicles are just now beginning to become available,” he said. “The effort to develop new battery technology is being compared to the Manhattan Project and the race to put a man on the moon.

“The United States needs to lead this effort. It is up to individuals and communities to take actions that help ensure that message is heard by our leaders.”

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