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‘It's electric!’

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Nazareth going green with goal of electric fleet, hosting event

By Kacie Goode

The Sisters of Charity are adding electric vehicles to their fleet as part of their ongoing sustainability efforts and invite the community to learn more about the cars at a special event this weekend.

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The local SCNs purchased their first electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt, about two weeks ago.

“It’s the way of the future,” said Sister Theresa Knabel, chair of Nazareth’s Car Committee, adding that some other countries are already looking to ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars to combat growing air pollution concerns.

On Sunday, the SCNs are partnering with EVolve Kentucky, an electric vehicle group, to host a ride and drive at Nazareth. Carolyn Cromer, director of ecological sustainability, said the public is encouraged to attend the event to learn more about the vehicles and to ask questions.

“This is part of what we’re trying to do with our sustainability efforts, which is to encourage and support and educate others about how we can all be doing better to care for the earth, and in particular to lower greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

The event will also provide the sisters a chance to view, ride in and possibly drive an electric vehicle to familiarize them with the cars while lowering anxiety for those who might be eligible to drive an EV or hybrid vehicle in the next few years.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing to have,” said Sister Molly Thompson, Nazareth’s first EV driver. “I do a lot of driving to Bardstown and back, and it’s very convenient to not have to worry about stopping for gas.”

Thompson said she is still getting used to the car and often spends her nights reading the owner’s manual, but she has enjoyed how smooth the drive is and how quickly and easily the vehicle accelerates, adding that she recently made a trip to Elizabethtown without issue.

With the purchase of the Bolt this year, the SCNs look to purchase more electric vehicles next year with the goal of greatly reducing the use of greenhouse gas emissions and being carbon free by 2037.

“We’re making small steps now,” with more major steps to come along the way, Knabel said. “This is one effort to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The American Automobile Association reports that the average round-trip commute length in the United States is 31 miles, Cromer said. The Bolt purchased by the SCNs has a range of 238 miles on a full charge.

“It would take care of an overwhelming number of trips,” Cromer said. “If you think about it from an air pollution and emissions standpoint, that’s a huge saving in emissions over the life of the car.”

Maintenance costs are also greatly reduced with all-electric vehicles, Knabel added, as they do not require oil changes and other work like gas and diesel vehicles would.

“The initial cost is more than a conventional car,” with the Bolt starting at around $30,000, Knabel said. “But over the life of the car, all the money you’re saving on gasoline and maintenance,” is significant. 

According to the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, EVs operate at about $0.03 per mile compared to the $0.10 to $0.15 per mile of a conventional vehicle.

In addition to the purchase of the Bolt, Nazareth has also installed its first charging station, and while that station still runs on fossil fuels, Cromer said the ultimate goal is to use renewable energy such as solar or wind.

Sunday’s ride and drive event will take place at 2 p.m. with a presentation in the Mary Madeline Room followed by a show-and-tell in the O’Connell parking lot. Organizers plan to have a few different electric cars on display, including makes such as a Tesla 3, a Bolt and a first-generation Nissan LEAF.

SCNs hosting Watershed Watch workshop

With a commitment to care for the earth, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are making efforts not only to promote sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint but also to care for local water quality. To do this, the SCNs are hosting a Watershed Watch workshop on Tuesday, July 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The workshop will train volunteer “citizen scientists” on how to monitor water quality in creeks and rivers throughout the state, as well as how to create and preserve natural pollution barriers near water sources.

Volunteers will receive kits to measure pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, bacteria and temperature at certain sites, conducting tests three times a year. To register for the workshop and for more information, contact Carolyn Cromer at 502-348-1589 or ccromer@scnky.org.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth recently purchased a Chevrolet Bolt as they look to add electric cars to their fleet in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.