Done in conjunction with the municipal lighting company, Belmont Light, the idea is to introduce drivers to the total experience of electric vehicles, the smooth ride, the easy acceleration, the fuel economy. As people become more familiar with the cars, so the thinking goes, choosing an electron-powered car over a gas-powered one at their next purchase will be an easier decision. One participant said that the carbon footprint of an electric is about half that of a gas-powered one over the lifetime of the car (construction impacts included) and, he continued, getting someone to drive an electric is less challenging than to get them to cut their annual total road miles in half.
From the utility's perspective, Belmont Light sees more electrics coming online over the next few years. To manage the electricity demands that will place on the municipal system, they joined with Belmont Drives Electric to tell people, charge at night, when demand is low and rates can be cheaper. As a residential community, Belmont sees their peak demand for electricity right at the end of the work day when people return home and turn on lights and computers and television sets. If people plug in their cars then too, that could overload the system, particularly in the warmer summer months when air conditioners also are running.
I had the chance to talk with Ian Todreas and Marty Bitner, co-chairs of Belmont Drives Electric (BelmontDrivesElectric.org) and organizers of the event. Here's our conversation. [Apologies for some of the audio. There was wind that day, and the mic picked it up.]