Green Mountain Power officials were in downtown Rutland Tuesday to unveil the first of 12 high-speed electric vehicle chargers they plan to install across the state.
GMP hopes the new charging stations will encourage more Vermonters to drive electric cars and help ease what’s known as range anxiety for those who already do.
For traditional cars and trucks there are more than 160,000 gas stations to choose from nationwide. But if you drive an electric vehicle – or EV for short – public charging stations are not nearly as plentiful.
According to Drive Electric Vermont, there are 69 charging stations in Vermont, though fewer than a dozen offer high speed services.
But the state’s largest utility wants to change that. Green Mountain Power is partnering with NRG, a large American energy company with a subsidiary called eVgo.
Vermont is the first New England state to be added to eVgo’s national network of high-speed charging stations. And GMP president Mary Powell says they’re the first utility in the country eVgo is partnering with.
“I think this is yet another example of collaboration where through collaboration and innovation in our state we’re being a real leader in terms of creating an electric vehicle infrastructure in the state," Powell says.
The charging stations look a bit like high tech gas pumps – but smell better. The one in Rutland offers charges at two speeds. The faster option can provide approximately 80 percent of a battery charge in 25 minutes. The slower speed provides up to 24 miles of charge per hour.
Costs vary from 10 cents a minute to $1.50 an hour per charge, with monthly subscription options also available.
Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras bought an electric Smart car last November and was the first to use the new charger in Rutland. While he admits he was worried an electric vehicle might be inconvenient, he says that’s not been the case, and a statewide network of charging stations will make things even easier.
“If I’m going someplace else I will get a text on my smart phone when my charge is complete, which is neat stuff," he says. "Or, if you don’t need a full charge, you can keep track of where it is in the process and come back when it has enough juice.”
Louras says the fact that GMP is locating chargers in downtown locations is also a plus. “There’s going to be a whole change with how people refuel their vehicles as they move from gas to electricity. There are people who drive from an hour away, plug into this and walk and go to a show and when they come out it will be fully charged," says the mayor.
In addition to Rutland, GMP has just installed eVgo chargers in White River Junction, Quechee and Waterbury, and will add other locations over the coming months.