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After several months of planning, the City of Evanston announced that it will begin installing electric car charging stations in three of its public parking lots starting April 16, 2012. Planning for I-Go’s solar canopy and charging stations began in October 2011 after City Council approved the location for three stations.

The solar canopies and charging stations will allow I-Go to add low emission electric vehicles to their fleet of cars available for rental. The solar canopies will occupy a total of four parking spaces. I-Go has agreed to pay a monthly lease for the two vehicles at each parking lot; the remaining two spots will be available to the public for electric vehicle charging.

“Transportation emissions are the third largest contributor of greenhouse gasses in the community and the I-Go car sharing program helps to reduce emissions, congestion on the road and parking demands,” said Catherine Hurley, Sustainable Programs Coordinator for the City of Evanston.

The locations for the charging stations are: Lot 4 (Central St. and Stewart St.), Lot 3 (at the Main Library) and Lot 32 (Hinman Ave., south of Main St.). Construction is expected to last for about six weeks with very little inconvenience to public parking lot users.

I-Go currently has eleven vehicles in Evanston, and residents are able to rent a car whenever the need arises. The addition of electric vehicles to I-Go’s car sharing program will allow Evanston to have cars in the community that have a lower carbon footprint. Each charging station includes solar charging capabilities that power two electric vehicles. The electricity produced by these canopies amounts to about 200,000 kilowatt-hours annually and will power up to 600,000 miles driven every year.

The car sharing services that will be provided by I-GO Car Sharing after the project in the three sites in Evanston are completed are backed by several grants, including one from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Energy cites electrically powered vehicles as energy efficient and environmentally friendly. For more information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s evaluation of electric vehicles, visit www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml.

Electrically powered vehicles are the product of emerging technologies that have the potential to change the entire landscape of passenger vehicles. Instead of using a traditional combustion engine, an electric vehicle (EV) uses an electric motor powered by a battery for propulsion. Currently, there are two main models of EVs on the market:

PEV – Plug-in Electric Vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, possess only a rechargeable battery that provides electricity to the motor for propulsion. These vehicles tend to have a driving range around 100 miles and will not drive further after the battery has been depleted.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt or the upcoming PHEV Toyota Prius, use a combination of both gasoline and electric-powered movement. The benefit of these models is that they increase overall driving range while using a fraction of gasoline that traditional vehicles use through balanced electric vehicle propulsion.

For more information on electric vehicles, visit www.cityofevanston.org/electriccars.