updated 5/4/2007 7:21:56 PM ET 2007-05-04T23:21:56

New York City parks just got a little greener.

The city Department of Parks & Recreation on Friday added two solar powered all-terrain carts to its fleet. Solar panels attached to the roof of each cart can power the four-wheel-drive vehicles for 30 miles on a cloudy day, and continuously on a sunny day.

"It's the ultimate parks vehicle," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "You can't get any greener than this. It's an environmentalist's dream come true."

The carts will be used in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, and in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, where Shea Stadium and Arthur Ashe tennis Stadium are located.

The 30-horse power vehicles resemble golf carts, but have rugged tires and hooks for hauling, seat four and can carry more than 800 pounds. They make no noise when operated, give off no carbon emissions, and can be plugged into an outlet to charge if there's no sun.

The carts were donated by BP America, which has earmarked $8 billion for alternative energy development. The company has donated 10 carts around the country already, and plans to dole out another five, said Bruce C. Johnson, BP's director of state government affairs in the Eastern United States.

Johnson said scientists were just tinkering around and came up with the idea, and donating them seemed like an eco-friendly thing to do.

"It's an entirely pollution-free vehicle," Johnson said. "The people of New York have been pretty good to us, so we just wanted to give something back to them."

The carts currently cost about $10,000 to construct and are not commercially available, but Benepe said he'd like to have an entire fleet down the road if it's financially possible.

"It would mean huge savings," he said.

The parks department is already operating an environmentally friendly bunch of vehicles. All 650 of the agency's trucks operate on biodiesel, and by the end of this year, the department will also operate 487 alternative light-duty vehicles.

Benepe said the carts fit into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's larger goal of a 30 percent reduction in the city's greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030.

The mayor's proposals include charging motorists to drive into Manhattan's busiest areas.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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