Oklahoma City seeks grant for Bricktown water taxi electric motors

Oklahoma City is applying for a federal grant to convert Bricktown's water taxis to electric power. The taxis are currently powered by gasoline.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Modified: August 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm •  Published: August 15, 2012

Bricktown's water taxis will be quieter and cleaner if Oklahoma City successfully wins a federal grant for electric motors.

The Oklahoma City Council approved an application this week for about $153,000 in federal Energy Department grant money to convert the boats from gasoline to electric power. The city would use the money to pay for new motors for use by Water Taxis LLC, the company the city contracts to run the service.

“They've pretty much given us an OK on it, but they have to formally go through the process of sending it through the federal Department of Energy for a sign-off,” said Larry Ogle, assistant director of Oklahoma City's Parks and Recreation Department. “They approved the grant pending (a) successful outcome on that.”

Energy efficient

The funds are for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects from the recession's stimulus packages and include a provision to buy American-made parts, so part of the remaining steps are to get motors assembled in the U.S., Ogle said.

Water Taxis operates the gas-powered taxis in the Bricktown Canal and also two electric-powered boats at the Oklahoma City Zoo, Water Taxis general manager Chad Huntington said. The simpler electric motors have a good track record compared to the combustion engines.

“The electric motors have proved to be very reliable,” Huntington said. They tend to have very good service records and they also are very clean and very quiet.”

The lack of exhaust fumes also will make for cleaner air near the canal and cleaner water.

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