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Electric Vehicles At Fort Sam Houston Saving Money And Reducing Pollution

Eileen Pace

Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is going green. New electric vehicles have taken to the streets of the post to save money and reduce pollution.

On-post errands at Fort Sam Houston used to be done in large, multi-passenger or cargo vans, sometimes even when only a smaller vehicle was needed.

About six months ago the post acquired 36 Low-Speed Electric Vehicles that Army North spokesman Eric Lobsinger said are working out well in more ways than one.

"Now we have the opportunity to tell a soldier, 'Hey I need you to go on an errand on post,' and the soldier can go off and do what he’s got to do. You don't have to worry about him using his vehicle or her vehicle or using up their gas or wear and tear on their vehicle, and it’s a lot more economical and green-friendly," Lobsinger said.

The electric vehicles are small, make no noise, and zip around the post at about 20 miles per hour. Army North spokesman Don Manuszewski said even though they’re slower, they are quicker and less unwieldy than the big vans.

"I love driving it around," Manuszewski said. "It’s kind of silly, you know, but it’s kind of like puttering around in a little go-cart. We used to have to get into this 15-passenger vehicle and drive just a short distance across base, or take it other places where you didn't really need a van with that much capacity."

Some vans are still in operation, but those replaced by the EVs were turned back into the General Services Administration. The vehicles can be charged at charging stations on the post, or plugged in just about anywhere.

A combination of electric vehicles and hybrid cars also are now in use at the Air Force bases under JBSA. Randolph uses 5 electric vehicles and 22 hybrids on base and Lackland uses 14 electric and 13 hybrids.

JBSA officials say the savings are undetermined at this point, but they expect to save in more ways than one – not only in gas but also in maintenance.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.