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Electric car chargers coming to Stowe

Electric car owners can soon count on Stowe as one of only a handful of places in Vermont to “fill up.”

The Stowe Electric Department is planning to install three electric car charging stations around town, as part of a penalty agreement with state officials over misusing bond money to pay off debts
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Despite the rarity of all-electric cars, the project could make Stowe a destination for people who own them, said Ellen Burt, general manager of Stowe Electric.

“It’s kind of under the premise of ‘if you build it, they will come,’” she said.

The utility has already picked two spots for the stations — one in the parking lot behind the Green Mountain Inn and one at Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort. The third location is still to be decided, although Stowe Electric is considering a spot next to the Stowe Recreation Path. The stations should be installed within the next few months, Burt said.

Unlike hybrid cars, which have an internal combustion engine that often helps charge a battery, electric cars draw power exclusively from a battery, which needs to be charged from a power source. Many electric car owners have a home charger, but for those on the go, a dedicated charging station — which needs to provide the right voltage of electricity in a safe way — is a rare luxury in rural states like Vermont. Electric cars need hours to fully charge.

“Typically, folks that have electric cars live in metropolitan areas, like Boston and Montreal, where there are electric charging stations,” Burt said. “We’re hoping that because this is kind of a destination as a resort community, people might come down here to charge and do some shopping and then maybe they would head down to southern Vermont, because they also have some down there.”

Customers will be able to use a credit card to purchase the charge — likely $3 for the first four hours and $1 per hour after that. The rates still need state approval.

Stowe Electric agreed to install the stations as part of a penalty agreement with the Vermont Public Service Board.

In 2009, the board, which regulates utilities in Vermont, accused Stowe Electric of using leftover money for a transmission line upgrade to pay down its credit line.

In April, Stowe Electric agreed to spend $25,600 on the charging stations in lieu of a cash penalty for the violation.

Other news

• The Stowe Electric Department has finished installing 4,100 “smart meters” — advanced digital models that allow the utility to track power use and outages in real time — for all of its customers. The project began last September. Smart meters allow customers to save money by using electricity during off-peak hours, when it is less expensive. Those rates will be firmed up later this month, Burt said.

• A plan to build a new Stowe Electric office is on the back burner, Burt said, because of a backlog of other projects and repairs from this summer’s storms.
More stwvetoday.com

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