QUEENSBURY — The town is officially buying an electric vehicle, after debating every possible pro and con.
The Town Board voted unanimously Monday night to buy a Nissan Leaf for $26,000.
The car will essentially be free. The town will get a $5,000 rebate from DEC for buying an all-electric car and will get $50,000 from NYSERDA as soon as it installs a vehicle charging station at the water plant.
But what may seem like a simple decision was fraught with choices. Should the town pick a cheaper car that can’t go far on one charge, or a more expensive car with a longer battery life? Would it be better to have one with a backup gasoline engine in case the battery died on a longer trip? Should the town instead get a Chevrolet Bolt, which can be serviced in the Queensbury area?
It got to the point where resident Travis Whitehead suggested they just skip the purchase.
“Do we really need to buy it now?” he asked at the board meeting.
Whitehead has brought up many questions about the purchase over the last month.
He noted Monday that the town recently replaced another car at the water plant. With one new car — a Ford Fusion — already delivered, he wondered whether the plant could get by without a second car.
Board members shot down that idea, saying water employees need to regularly drive all over town to check water meters, perform maintenance and do other daily tasks.
“These cars are used by more than (Water Superintendent Chris) Harrington,” said board member Tony Metivier.
Supervisor John Strough noted that the Leaf would replace an old vehicle that needed thousands of dollars in repairs to pass inspection.
“He needs a car right now,” Strough said.
Whitehead also argued the Leaf was a bad choice because it could not be serviced locally.
“Servicing in Albany, it seems to me that’s another negative. How are you going to get the guy back? Is he going to have to wait for the servicing?”
But board member George Ferone said servicing shouldn’t be a regular problem.
“It’s an electric vehicle. How much service do you need?” he said.
The vehicle won’t need oil changes, Strough said.
“As electric vehicles gain more popularity, we’ll be able to service them in this area,” he added.
Strough defended the purchase as sensible, since the town is installing a car charger at the water plant and is eligible for a $5,000 grant if it gets a car that doesn’t have a gasoline engine.
“A resident said to me, ‘What’s the sense of putting in a charging station if you don’t have an electric vehicle?’” Strough said. “I thought we were trying to do the environmentally friendly thing.”