The City of Las Vegas recently showed it knows a good bet when it sees one when it purchased its first Chevy Volt for its environmentally friendly fleet.

The 2011 vehicle will be one of four different branded electric vehicles the city plans to purchase by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

According to Diana R. Paul, senior public information officer for the city, the intention is to see how practical the Volt and other electric cars are, given the climate and usage they will see.


2011 Chevy Volt.

Thus far, it is believed Las Vegas’ Volt has been the only one purchased by a Nevada government agency, and perhaps others will follow, as we suspect the city will learn the Volt is anything but a long shot.

Not only will it have less fear of running out of power compared to BEVs, but the expense of the experiment was partially offset by federal funding.

Funds from the U.S. Department of Energy were secured by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV). Additionally, money for the Volt came through a city-operated Green Building Special Revenue Fund which receives revenue through utility rebates, energy savings and incremental increases in franchise fees.

To accommodate the plug-in vehicles, Las Vegas is also installing charging stations accessible to the public said Sustainability Officer Tom Perrigo.

“We know that electric cars are the wave of the future, so as we’re building new facilities, we’re installing charging stations so drivers can fill the batteries of their car while doing business or recreating at a city facility,” Perrigo said. “Thanks to the assistance from Senator Reid and Congresswoman Berkley, we are able to further show our commitment to building a sustainable community for current and future generations.”

The city's first charging station was installed at the Stupak Community Center , with more stations planned. The good news is the solar-powered 240-volt Blink Level 2 station was paid for by federal stimulus funds and is being made available for free use by the public. The not-as-good news is the installation has put a literal meaning on the term "no charge." That is, to date no one has taken the city up on its free EV charging according to Deb Massey, the coordinator at the community center.

"Part of the reason is we’re in a very low income part of town so there’s no one with an electric car ... anywhere near here,” Massey said.

But perhaps the slow start is the price of progress, and the city has otherwise been plugging away at advanced tech for a while now.

The city been keen to alternative fuel vehicles and sustainability prior to its commitment to plug-in vehicles, and in 2007 it won in the Transportation Category at the World Leadership Awards in London, England.

While its latest acquisition won't trump the City of New York which recently purchased numerous Volts , 90 percent of Las Vegas’ fleet of 1,150 vehicles runs on alternative fuels, and its commitment to electric power looks hopeful, if modest at this point.

The city noted also that in 2002 the “world’s first hydrogen energy station” was put into operation at its Northwest Service Center. It said that this example has helped prove hydrogen technology as viable, and other agencies across the country are following its lead.

As for the city's one Volt, Paul said it has been averaging 156 mpg in the hands of personnel who drive it around town on city business during the day. The city recharges the Volt between trips to maximize its use in all-electric mode, and mileage naturally varies, she added.

"We plan to test the vehicles at least through 2012 and then we will examine whether we plan to purchase additional cars," Paul said. "We currently have another Volt on order and it is expected to be delivered mid October."

City of Las Vegas , Gas2.0 .