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Town's 1st electric car goes the distance

Neal Lewis (left), executive director of the Sustainability

Neal Lewis (left), executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, and Town of Babylon supervisor Steve Bellone talk about the new electric 2012 Chevy Volt, the first of four electric cars added to the town's municipal fleet. (Sept. 29, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Babylon supervisor Steve Bellone test drove the town's first Chevrolet Volt electric car Thursday. It was a smart-looking 2012 model in glossy black. It made no more noise than an electric can opener.

The inaugural voyage was short -- a not-quite circumnavigation of the Town Hall parking lot -- but town officials expect to make many more trips. Three additional Volts are on the way, to be used mostly by code enforcement agents and inspectors, with 10 charging stations installed around the town.

Babylon is the first town on Long Island to install public charging stations, Bellone said, a natural extension of a 2005 initiative to purchase only high-efficiency vehicles for the town's fleet. About half the town's 58 passenger vehicles are hybrids or compacts.

The cars, he said, should hedge rising energy costs and convince individual drivers to follow suit. "When people know the infrastructure is there, more people will choose to make the investment."

Town officials said the Volts cost $29,500 each. A town spokesman estimated, together, they will save the town several thousand dollars a year in fuel costs.

Charging stations were free under the $37 million ChargePoint America Program, partly funded by federal stimulus money.

For now, charging is free to anyone with an access card, available on the program's website or at Volt dealerships.

There are about 20 commercial and 60 to 75 residential charging stations on Long Island, said James Stamos, president of Green Power Technology, which supplied the chargers.

Bellone described the Volt as "a good-looking car." The town seal, he said, "looks pretty good on it."

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