Kennebunk Fire Department will soon be sporting a new Tesla 3 like this one – except in white- as a command vehicle. The department is thought to be the first in Maine to choose an all electric vehicle. Westport (Connecticut) Police purchased this model late last year and say it is a perfect fit for their department. Courtesy Photo

KENNEBUNK- This community is thought to be the first in Maine to purchase a Tesla 3 for use as a command vehicle for the Kennebunk Fire Department and will utilize a robust financial incentive from Efficiency Maine to help reduce the acquisition cost.

Fire Chief Jeff Rowe had been making arrangements to secure a Chevrolet Tahoe as a new command vehicle when he heard a presentation at the local Rotary Club on what could happen as a result of environmental changes, he told the Select Board at a recent meeting.

Given the town’s commitment to energy efficiency – Kennebunk is a signatory to the the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – Rowe said he had already looked at some other options, including the Tesla 3, and had discussed it with the Select Board at a prior meeting. But at the time, the cost had seemed prohibitive and was above Efficiency Maine’s ceiling to be eligible for a $7,500 incentive.

So he went looking for a Tahoe, but continued thinking about the presentation.

“I didn’t have the right information before, so I didn’t support the Tesla, Rowe said. But the marketing manager of the electric car company called, Rowe got better information and appeared before the Select Board for their approval of the plan.

As it turns out, the base model of the Tesla 3 is white. Any other color, including the traditional red used by fire departments is $2,000 more. Once the $2,000 was subtracted, the price met the threshold set by Energy Maine, Rowe said.

The all-wheel drive Tesla 3, which is expected to arrive in about five weeks, will cost $41,490, which includes the $7,500 incentive from Efficiency Maine. That puts the electric sedan just $2,169 above what the Tahoe would have cost, Rowe said.

Rowe calculated he drives about 9,000 to 10,000 miles annually, spending about 1,500 a year on gas. He said the Tesla 3 is expected to increase the department’s electric bill by $30 a month – a savings of about $1,140 a year.

The Tesla 3 has a 310-mile range before a charge is required.

Officer Charles Sampson of the Westport (Connecticut) Police Department said the Tesla 3 the department put into service late last year is used for traffic enforcement and on patrol.

“We like it, he said. “Its a nice driving car, its comfortable and it fits our business.”

Sampson said the “frunk,” in the front, as well as the traditional trunk in the rear of the car, is handy for holding all the equipment police officers carry.

He said as department’s go greener, the car, which gets a fiv- star crash rating, is a “perfect fit.”

“This is a major step forward,” said Kennebunk Energy Efficiency Chair Sharon Staz.

“It’s really impressive we have an official in town making this kind of choice,” said Margaret Bartenhagen, also of the Energy Efficiency Committee.

“You’ll be the coolest fire chief in the state,” said Select Board Chair Blake Baldwin.

The vote to purchase the Tesla 3 was unanimous and the board also agreed to purchase a charging station.

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