Sunday, April 15, 2012

Small Steps to an Energy Independent World, Montpelier's Electric Vehicle Charging Station

All-Electric Vehicle Charging Station in Montpelier, VT
     Yesterday while downtown in Montpelier, I walked behind City Hall and literally ran into something I've never seen before and which given April 22nd and Earth Day is just around the corner it's definitely worth sharing. It's also just another reason why I think Montpelier is the best place to live in Vermont. We do stuff.  Seriously good stuff.  
     In February, the City and Green Mountain Power teamed up to install a free solar powered electric vehicle charging station behind city hall.  It's the third one for GMP so far, with one installed in South Burlington and Colchester.  Last week I pumped over $4.00/ gallon gas into my cars for the second time in my life, the last being in 2008.  I read yesterday how hybrids and all electric vehicles had there best month ever in the Burlington Free Press and here as described in the March 2012 Hybrid Dashboard.  I believe it.  While the current percentage of the total vehicle sales pie is small at 3.5% or so it's a rapidly growing segment of the market fed by high prices at the gas pumps.  

     With the current range limitations on all electric cars it's important to scale up the electric vehicle charging infrastructure around the state so it's possible to drive from Alburg to Bellows Falls easily.  In Montpelier, being the seat of state government it's good for our credibility to install and run an electric vehicle charging station.  
     Touting ourselves as national leaders in green thinking, energy efficiency and sustainability it's important to lead the way.  We may be a small state but we're leaders with a large following around the country so scaling up our charging infrastructure is essential to moving away from our dependence on oil and shifting use towards more renewable energy sources.  

"It's the classic chicken-and-egg problem," Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said earlier this month.  "Drivers are hesitant to buy range-limited cars when charging stations are scarce but private investors are reluctant to build charging stations when there are few electric vehicles on the road."  Searles also said. "We have to promote the availability of the cars, and make sure people aren't discouraged by a lack of fueling infrastructure."  

     I read an article in the Rutland Herald by Bruce Edwards about how the State is entering into a partnership with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, the Rocky Mountain Institute to   develop and implement electric vehicle charging stations state wide in Project Get Ready.  VEIC is also leading the effort working towards the goal of Burlington, Vermont becoming a Project Get Ready City. 
      It's a mix of advocating for good policy big picture wise and rubber on the ground implementation in test beds like Burlington, and closer to home here in Montpelier with our charging station already in place.  By scaling up the infrastructure we'll make it easier for businesses and consumers to shift behaviors towards all-electric and hybrid vehicles.  
      And that's a very important effort to undertake...

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