Juicing up those electric vehicles
Charging stations slated for area
Area electric car owners will have more opportunities to keep their vehicles charged as a result of a new state initiative.
The state Department of Energy Resources on July 22 announced it was awarding a combined 94 electric vehicle charging stations to 25 communities, including Chelmsford, Lowell, Salem, and Tyngsborough.
“We’re pleased,’’ Chelmsford Town Manager Paul E. Cohen said of his town’s selection to receive two charging stations, one of which will be located at the Adams Library, and the other at the north fire station.
Noting that Chelmsford has previously been designated by the state as a “green community,’’ Cohen said, “We are being proactive in terms of reducing our energy use and protecting the environment. This fits into that overall strategy.’’
Chelmsford, together with Lowell and Tyngsborough - green communities all - joined in a regional application under the program, according to Tyngsborough Selectwoman Elizabeth Coughlin.
“Our plan is to try to coordinate with each other to make facilities available for the use of these electric vehicles,’’ said Coughlin, who chairs her board’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee.
In addition to the 94 charging stations awarded to municipalities, the Department of Energy Resources is also providing 48 charging stations at MBTA parking locations and MassPort’s Logan Airport garages and Logan Express parking lots. The agency is working with the Department of Transportation and the MBTA to identify sites for charging stations in those facilities.
The program is funded with $384,000 from a settlement Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office obtained in 2007 for alleged pollution control equipment violations by an Ohio-based power plant, and $500,000 provided by Coulomb Technologies from a federal stimulus grant it received to install electric car charging equipment.
The state is covering the full cost of purchasing the equipment for the stations, and on a case-by-case basis is offering subsidies to help communities with the cost of installation. Communities are responsible for supplying power to the stations, but can opt to charge users for the service.
“Massachusetts has very aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals . . . and among the areas that we have identified as being able to contribute to the reduction in transportation,’’ said Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, noting 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation-related sources. He said the electric car charging station initiative was one way to lower those emissions.
Sylvia said the program is also timely given that Chevrolet, BMW, and
“Our thought was it’s important to help build the infrastructure to support all those electric vehicles’’ that may be purchased in the state, he said.
Like Chelmsford, Tyngsborough is offering electric vehicle car owners two locations to charge their vehicles. One is at the town Department of Public Works parking lot and the other opposite the Old Town Hall in the town center.
Coughlin said the two sites are well suited for a charging station, noting that both are within a short distance of Route 3 and that the DPW site is adjacent to a state Park and Ride facility.
To help spur use of the stations, Tyngsborough, at least at first, does not plan to charge a fee for use of the stations, according to Coughlin, who said the town has been assisted in the development of its plan by Ziyad Salameh, a Tyngsborough resident who is codirector of the Center for Electric Car and Energy Conversion at UMass Lowell.
Lowell is partnering in its project with the United Teen Equality Center, a nonprofit youth development agency.
The center recently began a project to renovate and expand its building at the corner of Hurd and Warren streets that includes features, including solar panels, it hopes will earn the building the highest level of green design certification
Under its partnership with the agency, the city plans to locate the charging station outside the equality center building, and the center has agreed to provide power to the facility, at least some of it from its solar panels, at no cost to users.
“We thought that given our commitment to this whole process of ensuring the building is the most sustainable one it can be . . . it was important to have a charging station next to the building’’ and to take responsibility for powering it, said Gregg Croteau, executive director of the center.
Adam Baacke, the city’s assistant city manager for planning and development, said the project reflects the city’s embrace of the principal of sustainability, and complements the other initiatives it has taken in pursuit of that goal, including improving the energy efficiency of its buildings.
With its proximity to a city parking garage and UMass Lowell’s Downtown Inn and Conference Center, the site of the planned station is also “a very appropriate location for a pioneering facility in the city,’’ Baacke said.
Salem was awarded two stations, which it plans to locate at the entrances to its Museum Place Garage and its South Harbor Garage, according to Paul Marquis, the city’s energy and sustainability manager.
For at least the first two years, the city plans to offer the charging service for free, though those who use the garage during the day will have to pay regular parking fees.
City leaders in Salem, which is also a green community, had been looking at the idea of installing charging stations more than a year ago as part of its overall efforts to promote environmentally friendly practices, Marquis said .
“So when this grant came along, we certainly jumped on it,’’ he said.