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EV Charging Station Comes Online

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By Gordon Dritschiloy | For Vermont Today
Jul 10, 2015

At a glance, it doesn’t look much different from a gas pump.

The new electric vehicle charging station that Green Mountain Power officially opened Tuesday even plugged into its first customer’s car much like a gas pump.

It was, however, according to GMP President and CEO Mary Powell, the beginning of the future.

The charging station in the parking lot at the corner of West and Cottage streets includes two chargers, one that can charge 80 percent of a vehicle battery in about 25 minutes — 15 minutes provides enough juice to get at least 35 miles — and the other can deliver in an hour enough charge for 24 miles — some electric vehicles require the use of the slower charger. Charges can be paid for at the “pump” or drivers can purchase memberships in a “charging network.”

A number of city officials gathered at GMP’s Energy Innovation Center to hear about the station — part of a network of 12 stations NRG EVgo is building around Vermont — before going out the back of the building and across the street to watch Mayor Christopher Louras plug his car in.

GMP spokeswoman Kristin Carlson said 891 electric vehicles are registered in the state.

“That number has been increasing,” she said. “The cool thing is the dealerships in Rutland are going to start selling electric vehicles so you’re going to start seeing those numbers tick up.”

Carlson said Formula Ford and Alderman’s Toyota are selling electric vehicles, with a third dealership set to join in soon.

Allison Gillette, who oversees development of charging stations in Vermont for NRG, said downtown areas were preferred sites because they give motorists something to do while the vehicles charge.

“This is where people want to shop,” she said of Rutland’s downtown. “This is where people want to be. You need to put a charger where people are parking.”

NRG Executive Vice President Denise Wilson said her company worked with GMP using traffic data from around the state to help place the stations. She also said they were attracted to GMP and Rutland by the nature of the company and community.

“Throwing in a charger and not having the mayor and the community excited — it doesn’t work,” she said.

Louras said GMP was continuing to deliver for the city.

“I’m starting to lose track of the number of times I’ve stood at this podium in this room,” he said. “I just see this as another step along the way.”

Louras said that new technology requiring a new infrastructure, like electric cars, create a “chicken-and-egg” conundrum. Consumers don’t want to invest in the vehicles without the support network, industry does not want to invest in support networks unless there are established customers.

“Green Mountain Power and NRG have recognized that it is important to build the network first,” he said. “We can’t wait for knuckleheads like me to buy the vehicle and hope the network gets built.”

GMP is doing more than just hoping electric vehicles catch on. Powell said the utility is working with dealers to offer electric vehicles as part of smart home packages and to include memberships in the charging network with vehicle purchases.

Click to read this article on Vermont Today.