RUTLAND TOWN — Continuing its promotion of renewable energy, Green Mountain Power is hosting an electric vehicle test drive event at its Post Road headquarters today and in Montpelier next week.

Steve Costello, vice president at Green Mountain Power, said there will be a variety of electric vehicles, or EVs, available for area residents to see, ask about or even test drive.

While GMP does not sell EV’s, promoting them meets the company’s values, Costello said.

“We think climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a society. We are working really hard to reduce the impact from climate change here in Vermont and do everything we can to lead on that front,” he said.

The mix of sources GMP uses to generate electricity is “already super clean,” Costello said, so an effort is being made to encourage customers to embrace renewable energy sources.

In a statement released by GMP announcing the test driving events, Josh Castonguay, vice president of power supply and innovation, said “transportation is the number one cause of carbon emissions in Vermont.”

“Switching to driving an electric vehicle is a great way to reduce your own carbon footprint as GMP’s energy supply is 90% carbon free and 60 percent renewable and getting greener all the time,” Castonguay said in the statement.

A report posted to the website Drive Electric Vermont estimates that charging an EV is like paying $1.50 a gallon of gas.

GMP offers incentives and rebates including a Level-2 charger, worth about $600, that can be used to charge the EV at the owner’s home.

In an email to the Rutland Herald, Kristin Kelly, GMP spokeswoman, said the incentives and rebates “more than pay for themselves in the savings they generate.”

“Our EV charging program helps to lower costs and carbon emissions during peak demand times on the grid. And more EV charging not only reduces carbon emissions, it also helps to spread regional grid costs out, which lowers costs for all GMP customers. All of GMP’s programs are designed to provide benefits to all GMP customers, not just the customers enrolled in them,” Kelly said.

Costello said that while it “seems cliché,” GMP staff members love their customers and want them to take advantage of the value from EVs.

One could say Costello’s support for EVs extends to where the rubber meets the road. He has driven one for the past two years.

“The overall operating costs of an EV are much lower over the ownership of the vehicle because the maintenance is minuscule. With an electric car there’s no engine, there’s no transmission, there’s very few moving parts, and so there’s very little that has to be done as far as maintenance and upkeep,” Costello said.

Costello said he “absolutely loves” his Nissan Leaf.

“It’s a great car in the snow. It’s super-efficient. It’s fun to drive, and I know I’m not adding to the air quality issues in Rutland County,”

Mark Alderman, owner and general manager of three local Alderman’s car dealerships, said his business “embraced EVs early on.” However, he said some people were still reluctant to consider the transition.

Costello said the GMC event was intended to give people a chance who knew about EVs but never rode in or drove one would have a chance to have a hands-on experience.

“There is a high level of people that are anxious or apprehensive about a risk of driving EV, I guess. They fear that it would be complicated to drive or hard to keep the charge,” he said.

Alderman said he had required all his staff to try the EV and the charging process to demonstrate the procedure was easy to learn. “It’s really not any harder than it is to charge your cellphone,” he said.

Participating in today’s test drive is partially in response to GMC officials embracing EVs as Alderman has, he said.

“It’s neat to see the early part of this evolving technology. So this event will a great opportunity for people that never sat in an EV or driven an EV to experience one. It’s really an eye-opener and well worth somebody’s time,” he said.

The Alderman’s dealerships are offering a promotion to GMC customers that will allow them to buy an EV at the same cost that GM employees would pay.

Today’s event is from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., at GMP’s site on Post Road in Rutland Town. On Aug. 28, the test drive event in Montpelier also runs from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the GMP site on Green Mountain Drive.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com

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