School offers electric vehicle incentives
Buchanan: 'We want to be an environmentally conscious school'
September 29, 2017
More students are considering driving electric vehicles on the Oak Park High School campus after administration incentivized EV ownership through the enforcement of free parking.
As of the 2016-17 school year, Oak Park High School offers free parking passes to any student with an electric vehicle who wants to park in and utilize the ChargePoint charging stations, which use energy generated from the recently installed solar panels to charge vehicles. Oak Park Unified School District Superintendent Tony Knight said many aspects of this arrangement are free for any high school student driving an EV beginning sophomore year and beyond.
“Sophomores [with an EV] may be granted a free permit to park in the lot. Students will be provided with a ChargePoint card that will allow them to charge at our stations for free and they will know that their car is being 100 percent powered by the sun,” Knight wrote to the Talon.
Knight said that EVs contain a simple motor that is considered to be two-third times more efficient than an internal combustion engine. At the high school specifically, an EV is powered through the renewable electricity from the solar panels.
“No matter what the source of the electricity, it is 100 percent American. That is not true for gasoline,” Knight wrote.
According to Knight, this system positively affects the environment and other areas of concern.
“We have these policies in place in order to encourage students to choose an EV for their first car and consider the environment, our national security and the public good when choosing a vehicle,” Knight wrote. “[EVs] are cheaper to drive, comfortable, quiet, safe and powerful. New models have longer and longer ranges as the battery technology continues to improve.”
Although an increase in EV purchases has not been notably prominent at Oak Park High School, the free parking passes have driven students’ parents to reconsider their choices when deciding which car to buy for their newly licensed high schooler.
“Well it’s definitely been very efficient, both money-wise and transportation wise,” parent Gena Cole said. “[My] kids also say that a parking spot close to the school has been very convenient for them.”
Students who park in certain designated EV parking areas also have the advantage of shaded areas and being closer to school building entrances.
“I know of a couple [of students who] bought an electric vehicle, [just] so that they could have a [better] parking spot,” assistant principal Jason Meskis said.
Some community members who are concerned about the environment and saving money without having to deal with gas costs and gas emissions have also turned to electric vehicles. Senior Justin Cole and his sister, junior Morgan Cole, commute to school together every day from Simi Valley in their electric Fiat 500e. Morgan Cole said she believes that there are many benefits to driving an EV.
“My brother, who drives, particularly likes to brag about not having any emissions. But it really is true that you don’t feel bad about having to go to the store, or going somewhere you could’ve walked to instead of driving. It’s not a concern really,” Morgan Cole said.
Principal Kevin Buchanan said he hopes students will continue to follow a standard of sustainability.
“We want to be an environmentally conscious school, we want students to be environmentally conscious and we want to model, as much as possible, an environmentally conscious environment,” Buchanan said.
According to USA Today, Californian legislation is looking to spend $3 billion toward consumer rebate on zero-emission vehicles, after paying about $450 million in subsidies through the Center for Sustainable Energy. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project states that rebates up to $7,000 will be offered on the purchase or lease of an EV, including plug-in hybrids. Justin Cole said that he has been a benefactor of this reduction of initial cost.
“The down payment was covered by government rebate because it’s electric, and the monthly payment was less than a cell phone bill,” Justin Cole said.
Morgan Cole said they pay a fair price of about $90 per month for their three-year lease.
“Actually, the dealership had a deal,” Morgan Cole said. “They have to sell a certain number of electric vehicles, so you can barter and really get a low, low price, so we got it for a decent price, and [we have] a friend that got it even lower.”
Senior Trisha Sharma said her parents pay about $70 per month to lease her electric Fiat 500e.
“Financially, it’s more practical,” Sharma said. “Also, with fully electric cars, the maintenance isn’t nearly as expensive.”
Sharma said that EV’s are compatible for new drivers, especially young adults.
“I would recommend EV’s for kids who are starting to drive. It’s kind of like the beginner level of driving and lets the kids get a feeling of how it is to drive a car,” Sharma said.
One consequence of driving an EV, according to Morgan Cole, is that they don’t hold out for long distances on a single charge, which only gets her and her brother to and from Oak Park and Simi Valley twice. On one charge, electric vehicle can run for an average of 40 to 200 miles. The Environmental Protection Agency estimate that a Fiat 500e’s batteries can hold out for 84 miles on a single charge. Still, this gives her parents a feeling of safety.
“My parents like knowing that we can’t run away because we wouldn’t get that far,” Morgan Cole said.