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Green wheels impress at Lehman energy conference

Ever thought about getting an electric car? If you’d seen the Tesla parked at Lehman College on Friday, September 24, maybe you’d consider it.

Lehman hosted the “Road to Energy Independence,” an alternative vehicle conference organized by the Center for Sustainable Energy.

Guests included regional fleet managers, representatives from technology companies, and members of the NYPD.

They heard talks on the issues from a number of speakers including keynoter Christian Parenti, a contributing editor at The Nation, who spoke about greening America’s roads and saving energy in the wake of the oil spill.

The BP spill was just one factor guests pointed to as a reason that green vehicles are gaining in scope and recognition, along with the tough economy and stricter emission standards.

“The ever-expanding interest is shown by the attendance here and by the amount of vehicles,” said said Ed Birdie of the New York Power Authority. “In addition, I can see the interest based on how many students stopped to admire these cars and ask questions.”

Birdie called the current situation a tipping point and said that people need to seriously wake up and take a look at the electric options they have for transportation.

“We have emissions issues that we need to solve, and the technology is right in front of us,” he said. “The diversity of the vehicles here is what’s really astounding — police cars, the van, the trucks. And the Tesla of course.”

The Tesla Roadtser 2.0 was, indeed, the single greatest spectacle of the many vehicles on display in the courtyard outside the Lehman College Music Building where the conference took place.

“Man, I’ve got to get me one of these,” said Matt, a Lehman College staff member who said he couldn’t give his last name since he was spending his work time looking at the cars. “I want to be driving one of these in five years.”

Edward Taylor, president of Down East Seafood in Hunts Point, had recently purchased his first all-electric truck for the company, and was happy with the results. He drove his truck to the conference to show it off.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s better for the environment, it hasn’t broken down once, and of course no fuel changes needed. That’s a real plus.”

Taylor believes that electric trucks are the way of the future, or at least should be for energy-conscious companies like his.

“If the government can drive the costs of these down by creating congestion taxes and making these trucks exempt, or by creating special parking spaces for them, some way to incentivize it, soon everyone will hopefully drive electric.”

The truck can travel 150 miles before it needs to be recharged, but can only reachspeeds of 55 mph, though Taylor stressed that was fine for city driving. He said, “It’s perfect for what we’re doing, delivering food in the city.”

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