As number of electric cars climbs in NH, so does number of charging stations

As number of electric cars climbs in NH, so does number of charging stations

Plug in at one of the electric car charging stations, have a bite and be on your way.

This is what Dusty McLear envisions at the sparkling new welcome centers on Interstate 93 in Hooksett, where 12 Tesla Superchargers stations and six production model electric car charging stations will soon be located. The Tesla stations six 480-volt chargers on each side of Interstate 93 should be ready to charge in the next couple of weeks. While the final details of the six non-Tesla charging stations are still being sorted out, both sides are optimistic a deal will be reached soon, McLear said.

Its obvious that electric cars are going to be a part of the mix that uses the highway, and its probably a growing part of that mix, said McLear, who has a 35-year lease to operate the welcome centers with The Common Man owner Alex Ray. In order to facilitate all of the customers on Route 93, we wanted to provide the services that they need.

One of the states biggest public charging stations will open at a time when the number of registered plug-in vehicles in New Hampshire is rapidly climbing. The state has about 950 registered plug-in vehicles, and 62 of those are Teslas, according to information provided by the state Department of Environmental Services. The number has increased in leaps and bounds in recent years, though electric cars still represent a minuscule percentage of total vehicles. In October, there were 750 registered plug-in cars, up from 433 in 2013 and 244 in 2012. The state had about 1.36 million post-1996 passenger vehicles (not including tractor trailers) in 2013.

The reasons for the steady growth include the availability of electric cars, and their reputation as environmentally friendly.

Before, you drove the hybrid cars because you were trying to do the right thing, said Rebecca Ohler, transportation and energy programs manager at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Now they are really just wonderful cars to drive.

The completed Hooksett charging station will bring the total number of public access charging stations in New Hampshire to 33. Most of these follow busy travel corridors like interstates 93 and 95, Ohler said.

There are also some in Concord.

In 2010, two Charge Point charger stations were installed at the Courtyard by Marriott/Grappone Conference Center and four more at the Residence Inn by Marriott. We were seeing a demand for the charging stations early on, as we were constructing the Residence Inn. We took the opportunity to invest and install the stations at both properties, said Andrew Clairmont, director of operations at the Grappone Conference Center. The stations arent limited to guests at the hotel, and many people who charge are regulars or only stopping in for a coffee, he said.

The response has been excellent, he said, and during peak seasons the charging stations see continuous use, he said.

New Hampshire has a laxer set of baseline regulations than other New England states, something the DES has gauged interest in changing, Ohler said. The regulations on the books in other states require manufacturers sell a baseline number of zero emissions vehicles to dealers. This has led to a boom in electric cars across state lines, and having more charging stations is a way to get those owners to feel they can visit New Hampshire.

These are our tourists. If an electric vehicle owner in Massachusetts cant drive an electric car to New Hampshire on vacation, then theyll take it to Vermont, she said. It really is an investment in New Hampshires economic development.

There are currently no Tesla Supercharger stations northeast of Hooksett. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company recently opend a charging station in Auburn, Mass., and will soon have another one in Brattleboro, Vt. The plan is to continue to add more stations in the region, said Will Nicholas, a communications manager at Tesla.

The charging stations are strategically placed so owners can drive from station to station with minimal stops and without having to worry if theyll make it. The new welcome centers matched Teslas preferred location: next door to amenities like cafes, shopping and restaurants that give drivers something to do while they wait for a charge. The Superchargers can give a full charge enough to drive up to 200 miles in almost 30 minutes.

We want people to be able to stop, charge and get on their way, Nicholas said.

While suburban Hooksett isnt a major travel destination, it is a short drive to Boston, within reach of New York and the gateway for major ski resorts, the Lakes Region and Maine. Its not really only for the folks that are nearby. Its people who are heading north to destinations in New Hampshire and other parts of northern New England, Nicholas said.

Having the six additional non-Tesla stations means more people can stop and charge something McLear said has been in the works for two years. I think one of the barriers to people getting into electrical cars is the lack of infrastructure, he said. Were happy to be a part of growing this. I think this is a game changer for a lot of people.

Source: Concord Monitor

SMART GRID Bulletin April 2017


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