07.24.2012 - by Tom Saxton
City of Sammamish Installs Charging and Adds LEAFs to Fleet

The city of Sammamish, WA, recently purchased two Nissan LEAFs, and I helped make that happen by assisting the city director of community development in evaluating the total cost of ownership of the LEAF compared to gas cars the city was considering purchasing.

left-to-right: Tom Saxton, vice president, Plug In America; Don Gerend, 2011 mayor of Sammamish; Kamuron Gurol, director of community development, City of Sammamish

left-to-right: Tom Saxton, vice president, Plug In America; Don Gerend, 2011 mayor of Sammamish; Kamuron Gurol, director of community development, City of Sammamish

I got involved in helping the city with EV issues when I read in the local paper that the city council had discussed how to support EVs. I wrote to councilmember Nancy Whitten, who was reported to be pushing the hardest for supporting EVs, and she connected me with Kamuron Gurol, the director of community development.

The city was in the process of evaluating proposals for getting grant support from either ECOtality or ChargePoint to put in charging stations at city hall. He had already done his homework, but I was able to help them drill down on some important issues and plan for the future when they put out the contract for installing the stations. They installed four stations last December. Two of the stations are powered by the city’s backup generator, so they will work even in a power outage.

In March, Kamuron asked me for help evaluating the total cost of ownership for a Leaf, Volt and a couple of default gassers, as well as how to do carbon emissions calculations for the vehicles. I leveraged some of Chad Schwitter’s work to build a spreadsheet they could customize to fit their assumptions and expected driving patterns.

The city had some grant money they could use toward the cost of clean vehicles like the Leaf and Volt, but they wanted to evaluate the vehicles on their total cost of ownership as if they were buying them entirely with city money. The city has a sustainability program, and could consider factors such as air pollution and carbon emissions, but only if the costs made sense.

Recently, I found out they just took delivery of their first Leaf!

I’m glad my city has two new cost-effective vehicles, some insurance against rising gas prices, plus all the other benefits of driving electric, and is now exposing city employees to the fun and convenience of driving electric.

I talk to a lot of people about the many advantages of driving electric, but I rarely get feedback on how that affects their next car purchase. It was nice to see the impact an informed EV advocate can have helping others consider driving electric. I encourage other EV drivers to help friends, family, and strangers met in parking lots figure out if an electric vehicle makes sense for them.

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