By Rita Cook     

Cedar Hill – The City of Cedar Hill continues to pave the way in eco-friendly initiatives in the metroplex and, while the city’s green-minded programs are all certainly future-oriented, one particular project is an area first.

The city recently purchased two all electric vehicles, Nissan Leafs, which are being used in the city’s Utility Billing and Parks & Recreation Departments.

“I believe we are one of the first cities in the DFW metroplex to have All-Electric vehicles,” Cedar Hill Assistant City Manager, Melissa Valadez-Stephens says. 

The city received $7,500 in tax credits off the cost of the vehicles, which made the cost affordable at around $29,000 for each one new, particularly in comparison to gas powered vehicles Valadez-Stephens believes.

“We also have also worked with Ecotality to receive grant funds for the installation of four Electric Vehicle Charging stations at the Government Center,” Valadez-Stephens explains. 

Two of the stations are also designated for Public Use and users may park at the two available stations and cross the street to go to the Cinemark movie theater and their car will be charged.  The other two stations are for City use only and are where the two City’s all electric vehicles are charged. 

“The reason why these vehicles were particularly attractive to the City of Cedar Hill was because of the fact that they have absolutely no emissions and they are virtually maintenance free aside from the batteries, which are also relatively maintenance free as well,” Valadez-Stephens says.  “Two years ago, the City received stimulus funds for the development of an Energy Conservation Management Plan and we hired consultants to determine what the City’s impact was on the environment and help us set benchmarks for improving our overall level of carbon emissions.”

Since that time, the City of Cedar Hill has received over $1.5 million in grant funds to support various energy efficiency projects they have or are planning to implement in 2012.

Cedar Hill began taking the “green” approach after receiving direction from the City Council to ensure it was doing everything it could to be responsible stewards of not only the city, but the regional environment.

“Ultimately, I think Cedar Hill wants to be known as a City that has makes eco-friendly decisions in regards to Smart Growth and limit the City’s impact environmentally as much as is feasible,”  Valdez-Stephens says. “We want to encourage eco-friendly business practices, but we also want to ensure that the initiatives we take as a City and that we encourage for residents and businesses that they also make sense socially and economically.”

In addition to the all electric vehicles, Cedar Hill continues the green trend in other ways too. Recently the city implemented a solar powered trash compactor and they are installing a 4.5 kw wind turbine at the Government Center from a $50,000 grant from the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) for the project. 

The city also plans to have wind turbines installed by summer 2012 and Cedar Hill already has a 152 kw Solar System on the top of the roof of the Government Center and a dashboard online that residents can view for real-time production at

“We believe that our citizens are eco-conscious,” Valadez-Stephens concludes. “Our citizens like the fact that we have more open green space and acres of parks than any other City in the metroplex and we want to keep things that way.  I think that mindset has culminated into green practices such as the increased recycling efforts we are now doing and so many other things that are happening now and will be happening later this year.”

While Cedar Hill tries to solidify its place as a local leader in sustainable development, the city's efforts reflect trends that may be picking up steam regionally. TXU Energy and the city of Dallas recently opened two new  TXU Energy electric vehicle charging stations at Dallas City Hall.  TXU has said they also plan to install at least three more stations in Dallas and about a dozen across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and that they will pay for the equipment, installation, and one year of electricity.  The City of Dallas also plans to place charging stations at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library and the Dallas Museum of Art in the future.

Rita Cook is a freelance writer who has worked as a special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News and other major publications.