New Electric Vehicles Help CSU Plant Operations Boost Campus Sustainability

eco-friendly vehicleCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Plant Operations at Columbus State University has a new ride for its continuing journey toward better campus sustainability: five all-electric, light utility vehicles.

The 1,180-pound vehicles have an advertised range of 35 miles per charge and hit a top speed of 25 mph. That's faster than the Cub Cadet vehicles Plant Operations had been using, and street-ready, if needed.

Each of the vehicles has a payload of 670 pounds, including a 34-inch by 48-inch flatbed rated to transport 330 pounds. Each vehicle's 72-volt battery system (six 12-volt batteries) powers a 7.0 horsepower motor.

"This is totally electric and can be recharged overnight," said Byron Harris, CSU's director of transportation and environmental safety. "It has a meter in there where we can tell every three months, six months (or) a year how much power it took to charge it up and run it."

Besides the fuel savings, the new vehicles mean less pollution from emissions, Harris said. That's better for Plant Operations staffers who were protected from emissions only by custom canvas enclosures on the older gas-powered carts.

"These guys work in the elements," said Mike Medlock, CSU's director of Plant Operations. "Folks forget when something's broken and it's hot, they're out working. When it's broke and it's raining, and there's ice on the ground, they're out working. It's our responsibility to get them out of the weather the best we can. And, of course, sustainability is the key. We could have come back with smaller (gas-powered) vehicles, but we didn't do that. It's all electric. We're not putting anything in the sky now."

That commitment to respect for the environment, also known as sustainability, is one of six core values described in Columbus State's current strategic plan.

Plant Operations personnel found the vehicles they had long been seeking when they attended the Association of Physical Plant Administrators in Minneapolis.

"It's been on our radar for four years," said Kelly Wilson, CSU Plant Operations project manager. "Finally, (through end-of-year budgeting) we were able to get the money to get them. We go to a couple of conferences every year, and these were the ones that most suited our needs. It's the most efficient and current cart out there right now. This will just help us with our push to be more electric-based than gas-based. It's all about sustainability."

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Caption: Plant Operations workers at Columbus State are getting around campus now with five new eco-friendly, light utility vehicles.