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USA: Nebraska cities gearing up for electric cars

Nebraska municipalities, including Seward and South Sioux City, are positioning themselves for the electric-car era.

South Sioux City just took delivery on a Nissan Leaf and the two towns are among eight putting in or planning to put in recharging stations that can be used by both publicly and privately owned vehicles.

“I’m really convinced this is a great project,” said South Sioux City Administrator Lance Hedquist.

Its charging station “should be in place late this week or early next week,” Hedquist said Monday. “We also purchased a new vehicle. It’s here. People are very excited about it.”

“(The car) clearly has more zip than we thought it would have before we drove it. It’s extremely quiet. And it works great for in-town travel — and most of the travel that cities do is within towns.”

Indications are “that it could actually beat a police car off the line” — not that there ever would be any reason to try that, he added with a laugh.

The Seward City Council will get an update Tuesday night on plans for three charging stations there, one at the city library and two others at Seward High School and Concordia University.

Seward City Administrator Brett Baker, also the president of the state’s city and county managers, will brief local officials.

“We’re helping this electric transportation coalition place some of these charging stations strategically,” he said.

Other communities in line for charging stations include Albion, Bellevue, Lexington, Nebraska City, Ogallala and Kimball.

At this stage, that list is almost as long as the one from the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles that identifies registered electric cars. As of Sept. 17, there were 14 Nissan Leafs and one Chevy Volt.

Much of the rest of the state registry was low-speed vehicles that don’t go faster than 25 miles per hour.

But Anne McCollister, owner-manager of the Lincoln-based Electric Transportation Partners and seller of charging stations, said the pro-active stance of communities is encouraging.

“The idea is to really energize communities by creating a refueling infrastructure for electrified travel within communities,” she said.

Having charging points every 40 miles or so is also important, because the range of electric vehicles available in 2012 is 80 to 100 miles.
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