Janesville55°

Delavan considers electric vehicles

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Kayla Bunge
February 6, 2008
— John Finley wants to buy an electric car.

But he can’t drive it home.


That’s why the alderman proposes that the city pass an ordinance that would permit neighborhood electric vehicles on city streets.


Finley said electric cars are ideal for in-town driving.


“They’re most efficient where gas-powered cars are least efficient: short trips,” he said.


A neighborhood electric vehicle, or NEV, runs on electricity, so drivers plug it in rather than fill it up. The top speed is 25 mph, and it runs for about 35 miles before it needs recharging.


“These cars may not be the answer for the long haul,” Finley said. “You’re not going to drive one to Chicago or Milwaukee very easily. But for people who primarily drive around a short range … I think they’d save a fortune in gasoline.”


NEVs may be operated on local roads that have a speed limit of 35 mph or less, provided the municipality that maintains the road has passed an ordinance allowing NEVs on those routes.


Finley proposed an ordinance in November to “lead other cities” in going green, but the city council rejected it because municipalities were responsible for the title and registration of NEVs. But the law changed in December, making the Wisconsin Department of Transportation responsible.


Alderwoman Ellen Reddy said Delavan should join the ranks of the many Wisconsin cities that already have passed ordinances allowing NEVs on local streets.


“We should be on the forefront,” he said. “This is something we should be proactive about.”


The cities of Beloit and Evansville recently passed NEV ordinances, and Milton and Janesville are considering them. Major cities such as Green Bay, Eau Claire and La Crosse allow NEVs on local streets, and Madison and Milwaukee are entertaining the idea.


Finley said the popularity of electric cars is gaining momentum, especially since a business selling them opened last summer in Janesville. He doesn’t expect the streets of Delavan to be immediately crowded with the vehicles, but passing an ordinance that permits their use in the city can’t hurt.


“We’re at the beginning of something big,” Finley said.


What’s next

A proposed ordinance that would allow the operation of neighborhood electric vehicles on city streets that have a speed limit of 35 mph or less could come before the city council as early as Tuesday.



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