The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Battery-powered scooters deliver mail

Renee Rosenow

In the interest of sustainability, UW-Eau Claire Facilities Planning and Management implemented a new battery-powered scooter vehicle in its mail services department last week, said Lynn Peterson, associate director of Facilities Planning and Management.

Peterson said that they have 45 “trucksters” that burn gas, and they started entertaining the idea of using hybrid or electric vehicles.

The mail room will use the battery-powered scooters to distribute an average of 7,250 pieces of mail on campus each day, according to the Facilities Planning and Management Web site.

Facilities mechanics Bill Gorell and Jake Seichter fully loaded the prototype vehicle and drove it up and down the hill nine times to simulate how it responded to the typical load it would carry.

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“By the ninth time, the light came on indicating it was overheating, but (Gorell) drove it around the block and it went off and he went right back up again,” Peterson said. “There was no problem with it.”

Several different companies pitched models of vehicle ideas to the university, Peterson said. Eau Claire selected Taylor-Dunn to manufacture the 72-volt, fully electric-powered vehicles.

Taylor-Dunn created a prototype model for Facilities Planning and Management in order to test the vehicles on the Eau Claire campus landscape. Peterson said the scooters were just what they needed.

Peterson said the problem with electric vehicles on this campus is that they are asking them to do a lot.

“When you mix hauling a heavy weight, say a ton of weight, along with the kind of speeds we would like and going up and down that hill – that is a feat for these kinds of vehicles,” she said.

The advantage of using electric-powered vehicles is that they are easy to maintain, Peterson said.

“Right now, they cost about twice as much as the old trucks, but it’s a much heavier duty vehicle,” she said. “There are very few moving parts, and maintenance is next to nothing.”

The Conservationists, a student organization on campus, were able to see the new vehicle last Thursday during one of their weekly meetings. The group’s purpose is to raise awareness of ecological issues on campus and in the community.

Senior president of the Conservationists’ Sara Randle said the university is taking steps in the right direction to conserve energy.

Along with other environmental groups on campus, the Conservationists are planning sustainability events to take place in late October, around Oct. 22, which is National Sustainability Day. The new electric-powered vehicles are expected to be on display during those events.

Peterson said she is very interested in sustainability and that Facilities Planning and Management is trying to reduce energy consumption across campus in many ways. Coinciding with the new electric vehicles, they are working on improving recycling around campus and composting in Davies Center.

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