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Stanton: Electronic vehicles, sustainability no longer ‘optional nicety'

From left, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Luis Gonzalez (formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks) and Will Toor, director of transportation programs for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, stand in front of a 1915 electric vehicle belonging to APS. (Photo by Cuyler Meade/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX -- Committing to preserving the environment, including supporting the use of electric vehicles, is no longer an "optional nicety" for cities, Mayor Greg Stanton said Friday.

"Those cites that are successful in truly building a sustainable culture within their city limits, those are the cities that are going to advance in this international economy," Stanton said.

Attending an event at which APS and the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted National Plug In Day, Stanton had the chance to ride in a 1915 electric car outside Chase Field.

Observed Sept. 28-29 and organized by the Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association, National Plug In Day promotes electric vehicles as a cleaner alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.

Jeff Guldner, APS' senior vice president for customers and regulation, said an electric vehicle user can save an average of $125 a month in fuel costs.

"We think electric vehicles are a great bargain to our customers," he said.

"This is not just good for us but also good for the city," added Luis Gonzalez, the former Diamondbacks star who now works in the team's front office.

Stanton pointed to a growing network of charging stations as one way Phoenix is encouraging people who like the idea of buying electric vehicles to take the next step.

"Making that choice - it's a big lifestyle choice," he said in an interview afterward. "We want to make sure that they have the confidence to know that if they make that choice they're going to be supported by the city."

Will Toor, transportation program director for the nonprofit Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, said he sees the market for electric cars growing quickly in Arizona. His organization projects that by 2030 Arizonans could be saving $500 million a year on fuel by switching to electric vehicles.

"Instead of leaving the Arizona economy, those are dollars that instead can circulate, helping to create new jobs right here in Arizona," Toor said.

Stanton called switching to electric vehicles a natural next step along with converting homes to solar power.

"As you provide electric filling stations for the vehicles, the easier it becomes," he said. "Once people realize that there's a cost difference, at some point obviously there's a tipping point."

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