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Event Introduces Area Drivers to Electric Vehicles

Norwich — A group of people stood in the circular driveway in front of the entrance into the Montshire Museum Thursday night, talking about electric cars.

Little did they know there was one sitting in the driveway behind them, with several passengers inside waiting to get by for their test-ride.

“They don’t make any sound,” laughed volunteer Barbara Duncan, of Fairlee, as she ushered people out of the way.

An estimated 200 people attended the free Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Demo and Forum, one of the first such events in the region for people to learn the ins and outs of hybrid gas-electric and all-electric vehicles.

About 20 electric vehicle owners, as well as representatives from three dealerships that sell hybrid cars, were on hand in the parking lot to share first-hand knowledge about ownership. Many offered to take folks on a short drive to show them what the cars were like.

Guests also cruised around the pavement on several electric bicycles, which use electricity to supplement pedal power and were also available for test drives, while the Dartmouth Formula Racing team showed off its prize-winning electric-powered race car, speeding it in a loop around the parking lot a few times.

“This is exciting — people think it’s the wave of the future,” said Duncan, who serves on the executive committee of the Upper Valley Sierra Club. “It’s really going to happen. It’s in our grasp.”

The club put on the forum alongside the Sustainable Energy Resource Group, a non-profit that consults towns and homeowners about energy issues. The event was cosponsored by the Montshire, and followed a similar but smaller showing elsewhere last fall, Duncan said.

Bob Walker, executive director of the resource group, said the hope was to reach the cross-section of Upper Valley residents who are environmentally conscious and concerned about the climate, but who haven’t yet made the decision to invest in an electric or hybrid vehicle.

“It’s going to be a lot of people’s first step,” he said, adding that he wanted the forum to be a “101” introduction.

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