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By Conrad Swanson

The Denver Post

BOULDER » The Mack truck’s looks weren’t what drew politicians, sustainability experts and business people to the northeast side of Boulder on Thursday morning. Its noise was. Or, rather, its lack of noise.

The truck, a Mack LR Electric, marks the first electric compost collection truck in the country, Suzanne Jones, executive director of Eco-Cycle, said during a news conference. She waved from inside the cab as the truck circled the parking lot of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

Except for the crunching of wheels on salt and gravel, the truck moved forward silently.

The white truck with Mack’s signature bulldog hood ornament — copper colored rather than chrome — looks much like any other garbage or recycling truck, save the two large batteries behind the cab. But because it runs on electricity rather than diesel, it’s not only silent but odorless. It doesn’t emit any exhaust.

“Who gets excited when the trash truck goes through your neighborhood in the mornings?” Mayor Aaron Brokett said. “This will turn into a much more exciting situation.”

The truck will join Eco-Cycle’s fleet this summer, Jones said, collecting compost across the county. The nonprofit was able to pay for the truck with help from a state grant for organizations buying electric vehicles and it will look to capitalize on that money for more of the electric trucks moving forward.

“This is the start of something very special,” Gov. Jared Polis said.

With more electric vehicles such as the one Eco-Cycle just bought, Colorado’s streets and cities can be quieter and residents will inhale fewer emissions, Polis said. Not only would a transition to more electric vehicles mean lower maintenance and fuel costs for state and local agencies and organizations, but it would mean progress in meeting his administration’s climate goals.

Those goals include an 80% drop in emissions from electricity generation by 2030. Polis also floated a record $40 billion budget proposal late last year, in part, to transition school bus fleets away from diesel engines and toward electric ones.

The state must move quickly to meet those goals and to combat climate change, he said.

“The clock is ticking,” Polis said.

Boulder County is still reeling from the effects of the Marshall fire, the state’s most destructive wildfire, Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said.

And worsening climate change exacerbates damage caused by those natural disasters.

Electric vehicles, particularly the future electrification of whole fleets, serve as a critical piece of the strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions and minimize the effects of climate change, Busalacchi said.

The country is “on the cusp of a torrent” of electric vehicles, he said. And Boulder and Colorado are right on the forefront. Conrad Swanson: 303-954-1739, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @conrad_swanson

 

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