By Marni Pyke

The electric bus and the compressed natural gas cement truck on display at the Green Driver$ 2015 event in Wheaton last week were more than just novelties.

They’re proof that, despite low gas prices and fuel-efficient conventional cars, once iconoclastic green vehicles are growing on America, officials with Chicago Area Clean Cities say.

It’s not just the Prius in the neighbor’s driveway or the Volt in your workplace parking lot. Local governments, such as the DuPage County Forest Preserve District and City of Naperville, are shifting their fleets of trucks away from diesel.

Among the options: compressed natural gas (CNG). David Hagopian of Advanced Vehicle Technology Services showed off a prototype Naperville police Chevrolet Tahoe that runs on CNG during the event at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. The Buffalo Grove company converts gas-powered engines into natural gas users.

It can cost from $9,000 to $13,000 for a van or pickup truck to switch to CNG, but “the fuel is less costly,” Hagopian said. Industry experts say the payoff in cheaper fuel can be less than two years…

…But are electric cars totally green? They use massive batteries that store electricity generated from power plants that may burn coal or natural gas, emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur oxides.

It’s an issue Argonne National Laboratory Senior Scientist Michael Wang has studied in depth.

“As they drive, electric vehicles (EV) do not emit pollutants, including carbon dioxide, because they use electricity from a battery rather than from combusted liquid fuel,” said Wang, manager of the Systems Assessment Group in the Energy Systems Division…

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Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Energy Markets
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