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Ready, get set, charge Lamoille County’s first electric car charging stations open in Stowe – News – Mobile Adv

Vermont’s small but growing population of electric car owners now have two more places to plug in.

With the recent installation of two public electric vehicle charging stations, Stowe has become the first town in Lamoille County to offer a place to recharge. There are now more than 20 charging stations in the state.

One of Stowe’s charging stations is in the village outside the Green Mountain Inn, and the other is at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Local utility Stowe Electric owns the stations and spent roughly $25,000 having them installed. That money was spent in lieu of a penalty stemming from a 2009 Public Service Board violation. The board accused Stowe Electric of using some leftover bond money meant for a transmission project to pay down a line of credit, in violation of the board’s original approval of the funds.

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Ready, get set, charge Lamoille County’s first electric car charging stations open in Stowe

By Tommy Gardner | Posted 4 hours ago

Vermont’s small but growing population of electric car owners now have two more places to plug in.

With the recent installation of two public electric vehicle charging stations, Stowe has become the first town in Lamoille County to offer a place to recharge. There are now more than 20 charging stations in the state.

One of Stowe’s charging stations is in the village outside the Green Mountain Inn, and the other is at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Local utility Stowe Electric owns the stations and spent roughly $25,000 having them installed. That money was spent in lieu of a penalty stemming from a 2009 Public Service Board violation. The board accused Stowe Electric of using some leftover bond money meant for a transmission project to pay down a line of credit, in violation of the board’s original approval of the funds.

“Our thought was, what can we do for the community and not send the money off to Montpelier,” Stowe Electric general manager Ellen Burt said last week.

Burt said the charging stations are ready to go this week, after the Public Service Board approved charging a tariff for their use.

“We’re the first utility to own (chargers) and have a tariff for chargers,” Burt said.

The rate is $2 for a motorist to use the chargers, plus 50 cents an hour for the first four hours spent plugged in, and $1 per hour after that. Money raised from the chargers goes to Stowe Electric.

Burt said it takes about four hours to fully charge a hybrid vehicle, less than half the time it takes using a typical household electrical socket.

Motorists can use a credit card at the chargers, or ChargePoint cards. Burt said there are also smart-phone applications that can communicate with the charging stations.

Electric car culture

When it comes to electric vehicles in Vermont, the figures are tiny. Just .07 percent of the total 571,900 registered vehicles in the state are electric, as of the 2010 census.

But the numbers are climbing. As of October, there were 432 electric passenger cars registered in Vermont, a 50 percent increase over the previous three months, according to the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC).

The most common plug-in cars in Vermont are hybrids. According to the VEIC data, there are 213 Toyota Priuses and 73 Chevrolet Volts registered in Vermont. There are also 44 Nissan Leafs, the most popular fully electric car.

James Moore, founder of SunCommon in Waterbury, drives a Chevy Volt. The Volt is a hybrid, but its engine is purely electric and only uses gas to power a backup generator. Moore said each full charge gets a driver 30 to 40 miles. Pure electric cars get close to 200 miles per charge.

Moore said he spends the equivalent of $1.20 a gallon in gas, and he’s getting 115 miles per gallon on his daily commute between Montpelier and Waterbury.

He said Vermonters spend more than $1 billion on transportation, and it’s not clean fuel.

“Most of the energy you spend money on just gets spit out of the tailpipe,” he said.

McMahon Chevrolet Buick in Morrisville tries to keep at least one Volt in stock, although it’s not a huge seller, said co-owner Tom Crow. Equating electric cars to computers, Crow said technological advances tend to make electric vehicles obsolete quicker than their carbureted counterparts.

“They do have leasing options that are good,” Crow said. “That’s the way to go, because the price point is very attractive.”

A place to recharge

According to the VEIC, there are fewer than five electric cars registered in Stowe, and about double that in Waterbury and Morristown. Electric vehicle owners can plug their cars in at home, but 22 stations — eight of which are in the Burlington area — to serve 432 cars means people have to do research to find out where they can charge up while they park.

Kelly Lucci, VEIC’s communications director, said there are smart phone apps that map out nearby stations. And sometimes people with 240-volt capabilities at their homes will post their address in case an electric car driver needs a quick charge in a pinch.

But having a more established “electrification of our transportation” infrastructure in Vermont can help draw out-of-state tourists, Lucci said.

In particular, she said, Quebec is promoting electric vehicles, and the Vermont and Canadian governments are working on a “green corridor” from Vermont through Quebec.

“There are certainly challenges inherent in driving a limited-range vehicle,” Lucci said. “And there’s been strong demand and growth in Quebec. That’s the largest sector we’ve seen.”

Although it’s not clear whether Stowe Electric would have sprung for the charging stations had they not faced the Public Service Board penalty, Moore praised the utility for taking a lead in the green vehicle arena.

“The leadership that Stowe is showing is really important,” he said, “because we’re not going to get there without towns and businesses planting the seeds.”

Area charging stations:

Stowe: Green Mountain Inn, Stowe Mountain Resort

Waterbury: Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Center

Hardwick: Lamoille Valley Ford

Montpelier: Lost Nation Theater, Vermont Dept. of Buildings and General Services

Find a map at driveelectricvt.com.

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