BENNINGTON — At electric car drivers' convenience, owners can now charge up quicker while running errands or shopping downtown.
In May, two charging stations were installed at the public parking lot at 205 South St. with the collaborative efforts of Green Mountain Power (GMP), Bennington Economic Community Development, and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.
"Having a fast charging station in the middle of our downtown is a real attraction for Bennington, making it convenient to use cleaner transportation," Mike Harrington, director of Bennington Economic and Community Development said in the release. "We are so pleased to partner with Green Mountain Power to bring this charging station to Bennington."
It has a dual port, one for level two charging, which takes longer, and one that's a DC fast charger. The fast charger will provide 80 percent battery charge within 25 minutes, according to a release from GMP, while level two provides 24 miles of charge per hour. The station serves all electric vehicles, however Tesla owners need a special adapter.
"GMP has been putting charging stations around the state as part of the initiative to have a network in the state of Vermont and encourage [people] to drive clean vehicles. It decrease anxiety of figuring out whether they can charge up," Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokesperson said. "Designated downtowns and worked with the state to choose some towns where the charges would work very well. A fast charger is really terrific. They can connect, do errands and get it pretty well charged up."
The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development located towns in the state that would find charging stations useful. Bennington, Brattleboro and St. Albans fit best, Gary Holloway, downtown program coordinator at the department said. His group worked with Efficiency Vermont to identify which downtown's were eligible for installation.
"We helped bridged the communication to get the ball rolling, help identify and link Efficiency Vermont," he said. "The communities that stepped forward identified that there was a need, particularly the fast charge station. Many of our communities have a level two station, but not nearly as many of the fast charge. There's a very high need to help fill in and the available locations around the state."
Electric vehicles increase energy independence, contribute to healthier air, and lower carbon emissions according to Drive Electric Vermont. Those interested are eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500, from the federal government, on the purchase of an electric vehicle. In October, there were 1,046 electric vehicle passengers, according to the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles registration database, which is a 31 percent increase over the past year. Sixty-six percent of the state's communities house electric vehicles, with Bennington County having less than 10.
"People that drive electric vehicles have access to a list of where the chargers are and will drive into downtown Bennington to charge up," Schnure said. "The idea is to do it in a location where they can do other things while charging. You plug your car in, do an errand, enjoy the local community and come back."
There are 132 charging stations in Vermont, and now three downtown. Customers of GMP and NRG EVgo can pay as they go or sign up for charging memberships that start at roughly $5.95 per month. Sign up at www.greenmountainpower.com/evgo or pay at the site with a credit card. A list of Vermont charging stations can be found at Drive Electric Vermont.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.