Electric car charging stations eyed

 
 
ADDISON COUNTY — Green Mountain Power (GMP) has confirmed plans to establish public charging stations for electric vehicles traveling in Addison, Chittenden and Washington counties next spring.
Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (CVPS), the state’s largest utility, announced it is exploring a similar service.
Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokesperson, said the exact locations of the charging stations and the eventual cost of the service are still being worked out. Current plans call for the charging stations to be located at pre-existing businesses and/or public venues, with the electricity to be generated from solar panels and dispensed — at least initially — for free, according to Schnure. When it gets to a point when the demand for the solar power exceeds the amount being generated by the solar panels, GMP will devise an hourly fee that users will pay by swiping a charge card.
Each charging station will have two chargers. The “Level One” charger will use 110-volt household current, and will be compatible with hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius that have been converted to plug-in technology. The “Level Two” charger will use 220-240 current and will be compatible with the new electric vehicles entering the market, such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.
Officials are currently scouting spots for the charging stations.
“We are trying to find locations that have good traffic and are places convenient for people to stop and spend a few hours,” Schnure said on Thursday. “We have several places that are interested.”
Schnure said GMP is creating the new charging stations in recognition of the growing popularity of electric vehicles and out of a desire to reduce the company’s — and state’s — carbon footprint. Utilities throughout the nation are trying to reduce energy portfolios that remain heavily dependant on fossil fuels.
“Electric vehicles are part of Vermont’s energy future,” Mary Powell, President and CEO of GMP, said through a press release. “Transportation currently represents a significant percent of Vermont’s carbon emissions and electric vehicles need to be part of a cost-effective strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. These new charging stations will help highlight the environmental benefits of fueling more vehicles with electricity.”
Adding more charging stations will give consumers more impetus to buy electric vehicles, Powell reasoned.
“One of the barriers to switching to all-electric vehicles is the concern about finding a place to charge up away from home,” Powell said. “GMP is installing these charging stations to help jump start the development of the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles convenient to operate.”
Green Mountain Power provides electricity to more than 175,000 people and businesses in Vermont, including a portion of Addison County.
Meanwhile, CVPS has a team studying the potential of setting up public charging stations in the state. The utility already operates one solar-powered charging station for its own electric-hybrid vehicles, with another under construction. Both are in Rutland County. CVPS currently owns four hybrid-electric vehicles.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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