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USA: Northampton starts installing eight electric car-charging ports

NORTHAMPTON – Paid for almost entirely by state-sponsored green-energy programs, Northampton will be building eight 230-volt charging ports for electric cars to be installed in parking lots and garages for public use.

The program is designed to encourage the purchase of environment-friendly vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Roadster which, using the stations, will be able to get a complete charge in two to four hours, according to Christopher Mason, the energy and sustainability officer at Northampton Central Services.

The project began in March of 2011, but was delayed by a lengthy review by the state Department of Energy Resources of the proposal and logistics with the state-funded contractor.

On Friday, the city’s Department of Public Works began the first step of the project, digging a ditch for an electrician to install wiring at the bottom of Crafts Avenue, where two ports are planned that will provide free charges to electric vehicles. Northampton will pay for these steps, but the government is covering the rest of the cost. Because most of the infrastructure is already in place, said Mason, “it’s a minor cost to the city.”

Ideally, said Mason, the placement of the chargers – they will be installed in the two spaces now designated for 15-minute free parking – will be close enough to Northampton’s popular downtown area that electric-car drivers can park, plug in and easily enjoy a night on the town as the car charges.

Another spot for free charging will be in the soon-to-open parking lot beside the police department building. During business hours it will only be available for courthouse visitors, but during the evening concertgoers will be able to charge their vehicles at ports located conveniently across the street from the Iron Horse Music Hall.
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