PLUGGING IN

Scott Logan, NPS utility systems repairer/operator, charges the batteries of the electric van each evening. Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

Klondike Park procures electric van

By ARDYCE CZUCHNA-CURL
Observant locals may have noticed an unusual van pulling the National Park Service float during the annual 4th of July parade. The big white van you see around town, usually driven by Skagway’s own Scott Logan, is actually cutting-edge green technology, according to an NPS press release.
It runs on electricity and is proving to be very practical as a maintenance vehicle.
The van is the perfect vehicle for running around Skagway and Dyea, carrying tools and minimizing trips back to the shop for materials between jobs, Logan says.
It runs well and allows the National Park Service to meet its goals to preserve resources, decrease emissions and improve sustainability. The vehicle was purchased with assistance from the NPS regional office in Anchorage and a $32,300 grant from the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program.
The mission of the Clean Cities Program is to advance the nation’s economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local decisions to adopt practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum consumption. Clean Cities carries out this mission through a network of more than 80 volunteer coalitions, which develop public/private partnerships to promote alternative fuels and vehicles, fuel blends, fuel economy, hybrid vehicles and reduction in idling time.
“This van represents the park’s commitment, as part of a broader movement in the federal government, to improve our environmental sustainability,” says Park Superintendent Jim Corless.
Using electricity produced by Skagway’s hydropower plant, emissions related to the operation of this vehicle are virtually nil, making it as ëgreení as is possible for a motor vehicle. Additionally, the cost per mile of operation appears to be substantially below that of a similar, traditionally powered truck, making it friendlier to our budget.”
The electric van is a portable workshop.
Lack of maintenance is the most impressive aspect of the van for Logan who says the vehicle has no exhaust system, no alternator, no spark plugs, no transmission fluid nor radiator coolant.
The van has what Logan calls regenerative braking.
“When you let up on the gas, the motor becomes a generator and begins to recharge the batteries,” he said. “The brakes seldom get used, so they&Mac226;ll last longer.”
Logan says it costs from 13 to 20 cents a mile for the
electricity, less than half the cost of gasoline. He said it takes about seven hours to recharge the batteries.
“The most common question I’m getting about the van is how far it can go between charges,” Logan added. “Forty miles is the range and that’s perfect for our runs to Dyea and back. We can do the run twice if we need to and still have charge to spare. I am very proud to be a part of this project.”