Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Golf Carts and Going Green

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 9:45 AM

click to enlarge Hummer's new golf cart: Can go a full nine holes without a refuel.
  • Hummer's new golf cart: Can go a full nine holes without a refuel.
So Mayor Karl Dean wants Nashville to be the greenest city in the Southeast. Good! Goals are good! Especially when meeting said goals means we can all finally take off these damn carpenter's masks. (And you thought it was just about the swine flu.) There's just one problem: The city has no money. Not only that, we have less than no money. And next year or the year after that, we'll probably have to raise property taxes just to make up for that money we don't have. This is not good. And it's worse for those green goals. Because green things, at least right now, cost more than the things that are not green. (Orange things? Wasn't there something in physics about complementary colors? Ahh yes, red. We'll call the non-green things red.) Want an example? Here's a very small one: Golf carts. Gas golf carts aren't green. Golf is a sport (this is a point that is not up for debate) that doesn't require motorization. Still, because some people are old, tired, lazy or in need of a place to keep their beer, they drive them anyway. And this has environmental costs that are not green. The solution: Electric carts. Electric carts reduce emissions and, in the long run, are actually cheaper to maintain. So why then, when it came time to sign a new five-year contract for golf carts last week, did Metro parks choose gas (again) over electric? Money, that's why. Or a lack thereof. As Sally Davis, superintendent of golf operations, explained to us, the cost to retrofit the cart barns (the place where carts recharge) is prohibitive. Something to the tune of $50-$75K for the six golf courses under Metro's control. And despite the obvious long-term advantages for the plug-in models, that means, for another five years at least, we'll all be choking on the fumes created by so many weekend duffers. (Not really. But you get the point.) A small example, yes. But just another reason why the title of Greenest City in the Southeast won't come easy. Or cheap.

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