Electric vehicle charging points in one of the parking decks in downtown Wilmington. (Daily photo / file from Port City)

WILMINGTON – The city of Wilmington is poised to become one of the first cities in the state to use an electric vehicle for garbage collection.

The city council unanimously accepted a $ 270,586 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment Quality Tuesday night. This amount is a 45% refund on the city’s purchase of an electric garbage truck for $ 573,321 and required chargers for $ 27,982.

The acquisition will make Wilmington one of the first North Carolina communities to use a zero-emission refuse collection vehicle.

The carrier should arrive sometime between late 2021 and mid-2022.

Connected: Wilmington wants 100% renewable energy, electric fleet by 2050

In an interview earlier this month, David Ingram, Sustainability Project Manager at Wilmington, stated that a garbage truck is an ideal vehicle that electrical engineering can replace, as it stops and starts frequently, causing additional emissions.

A Wilmington ad hoc task force recently released one Clean Energy Report It shows a way in which the city could throw all of its diesel vehicles overboard by 2050 and replace them with an emission-free fleet. (The Council has not yet officially adopted this as a target, but a resolution on that target will be on the agenda at an upcoming meeting.)

Wilmington was one of six receiver for $ 1.3 million in statewide funds distributed under the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, which aims to reduce air pollution.

Nationwide, the program is replacing a total of 21 diesel-powered vehicles with cleaner alternatives, including another garbage truck in Cary and a transit bus in Charlotte.

The City of Wilmington must provide a 55% match with $ 154,812 from their fleet replacement fund and $ 212,575 from their garbage and recycling fund.

The city also has to pay $ 36,667 out of pocket for the electrical upgrades required to install the charging infrastructure in the City Operations Complex.

According to the grant requirements, the city is required to get rid of a diesel powered vehicle manufactured before 2009. She has selected a decommissioned packer vehicle for 2008. According to the city, the scrap metal would exceed its resale value.

Although replacing the packer would cost only $ 183,000 – less than half the price of the electric vehicle – the city expects a positive return on its investment in five years from savings in energy and maintenance, according to a statement from the city. Ingram said the electric vehicle has a life expectancy of 12 years, while the diesel trucks the city owns typically last seven years.

“The electric vehicle has very few moving parts, so to speak,” Ingram told the city council on Tuesday. “It has an electric motor, it doesn’t use fluids, and it requires much less maintenance than a traditional vehicle.”

Councilor Charlie Rivenbark questioned the lithium batteries that need to be replaced in electric vehicles.

“We’re talking about sunshine and electric vehicles,” said Rivenbark. “What’s the downside?”

Omar Sandlin, a representative for Lion Electric Co., said the battery warranty is eight years.

“At the end of those eight years, we guarantee that you will have 65% of the original consumption of this battery,” said Sandlin. “No batteries hold 100% charge.”

More than 400 Lion Electric vehicles are in service as of Tuesday, and there is still no battery or engine failure, according to Sandlin. However, the garbage trucks are new technologies. Sandlin said there is a backlog of orders from Charleston to Chattanooga to Miami, but none are on the way.

“We don’t go into this with someone who has absolutely no history, but the use of garbage is relatively new,” Ingram said.

The Clean Energy Task Force proposes that the city convert 10% of its 600-plus vehicle fleet to electric by 2025. This percentage is to increase to 50% by 2035, to 75% by 2045 and to 100% by 2050.

In order to achieve these benchmarks, the city’s task force suggests introducing new guidelines in the coming years, e.g. For example, the requirement that all future vehicle purchases must be hybrid or electric vehicles only, or charging as part of plans for a new build.

City awarded $ 20,000 for compost bins

Also at the city’s Tuesday meeting, the city council accepted a grant of US $ 20,000 to purchase 600 compost bins in the backyard to distribute to residents free of charge and to run an awareness campaign.

It is estimated that when used by all households, the trash cans reduce waste by 190 tons.

“It is a considerable effort to reduce waste and change[s] the soil in our church, ”Ingram told the council.

The North Carolina Environmental Aid and Customer Service Department manages funding under the solid waste management program. City must provide a 20% match – a $ 4,000 contribution – to the project. It distributes the money from the operating budget of the recycling and garbage collection services.

The compost bins made by FreeGarden Earth are made available to residents free of charge. They’re 80 gallons each, UV-resistant, and made from 100% recycled material with screw-on lids to keep animals and pests out. Residents must submit an application to get a trash can.

Funding will also help organize composting workshops, social media campaigns and teaching materials.

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