By Darren Coyne
Lismore’s got one and now Ballina wants one too.
The Ballina shire council is considering buying electric cars as part of its fleet replacement strategy.
The council is also investigating installing a public charging station at the Ballina airport.
The decision follows Lismore’s purchase of a Nissan Leaf, which runs on lithium-ion batteries and can travel up to 170 kilometres on a full charge.
Lismore’s car is recharged at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre, using power from the roof-top solar panels.
At the last meeting of the Ballina council, Greens councilor Jeff Johnson was successful in convincing his fellow councillors that they should follow suit.
Cr Johnson said electric cars would eventually be commonplace.
‘I was recently at the Macadamia Castle for the unveiling of Tony Gilding’s 40kw Solar PV Carpark Shelter and the electric vehicle charging station attached to it,’ Cr Johnson said.
‘Mr Gilding has shown what can be achieved and set the standard for council’s and other businesses to follow.
‘The thought of electric cars being charged by solar panels is a very exciting concept that will become common place.
‘If the numbers are even close to stacking up, which I believe they will, Ballina council should be investing in this technology.
Cr Johnson said the airport would provide a wonderful location to do this. ‘Commuters could park their car in a secure carpark and have it charged up ready for them on their return,’ he said.
‘Electric vehicle technology has come along way over the last few years. The price of electric vehicles has dropped and the range increased.’
Cr Johnon’s motion was supported unanimously.
Meanwhile, Lismore’s new car has been getting plenty of work.
It is used by staff at the waste facility, along with mayor Jenny Dowell who often drives it to community events.
Lismore’s Waste Operations Coordinator Kevin Trustum said the car was attracting a lot of attention.
‘It’s really got everyone talking,’ Mr Trustum said.
‘Certainly from an environmental perspective, it’s the way we want to be heading. Our whole push is to make Lismore a model of sustainability, and if the local council workers are getting around in electric cars, I think that’s a great start.’
Cr Johnson agrees.
‘Ballina Council unanimously resolved in 2009 to aim to become carbon neutral and phasing electric vehicles into our fleet would be another positive step towards achieving this goal,’ he said.