Among the many virtues of living in Oak Park, here is one that many residents may not be aware of: It’s a great place for electric vehicles (EVs). 

In addition, Oak Park owners of EVs can take advantage of incentives offered by Illinois and the federal government. Consider this: In the first year of owning my 2013 Chevy Volt, I received $2,500 more in tax credits and rebates than my total car payments. This is possible because of a federal tax credit of $7,500 and a 10% rebate of the MSRP offered by Illinois, one of the most generous state incentives in the country. 

While some may argue that there shouldn’t be any government incentives for one type of car over another, I suspect others are simply unaware that these incentives make EVs less expensive than comparable gasoline-powered cars. 

In addition, because our gasoline prices are high but our electricity costs are low, the operating-cost advantage here is particularly good. I estimate that I save at least $1,000 a year by charging my battery instead of filling a gas tank. That assumes I charge at home, but it gets even better: free EV charging is available in Oak Park’s two public parking garages and at the Walgreens on Madison. Although use of these public charging stations is increasing, so far I’ve always found a space available. 

Even greater availability will be coming soon with the new public charging stations on North Boulevard. It amazes me that more Oak Parkers aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to own cars that can be driven without paying for fuel. If an Oak Park service station offered a free gallon of gasoline, no strings attached, can there be any doubt that Oak Parkers would line up for their free fuel? 

Often when the cost advantages of electric vehicles are discussed, the comparison is made to other cars of a similar size. It is true that even with these savings, there are cheaper cars available, but I doubt there are cheaper cars that can match the performance and handling of my EV. 

But there is more. With Integrys supplying the village with electricity that is 100% from renewable sources, Oak Park EV owners can drive with zero net emissions. Even better, like the new ones on North Boulevard, the EV charging stations in the Avenue Garage are tied directly to the solar panels on the garage roof. When I charge my car for free there, I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m driving with power from the sun. 

This is greener transportation than taking the el, where the electricity comes from a mix of sources, including coal. I’m also proud that my EV, which is an engineering marvel, was made right here in the USA by an American company. 

Michael Trenary is a 21-year resident of Oak Park and owner of a Chevy Volt.

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