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Plan to roll out more electric vehicle charging stations across Vermont

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 4:44 PM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill will mean more money for electric vehicle charging stations in Vermont, and EV advocates hope that will drive more folks to leave their gas vehicles behind.

As of January 2021, a little more than 4,000 Vermonters are driving an electric or hybrid electric vehicle.

EV advocates hope to raise this number by making charging stations more accessible throughout the state with this federal money.

“One day a week here at the South End City Market I plug in and it usually gives me about 46 to 52 miles of all-electric range,” said Justin Graham of Burlington.

Graham has been driving his hybrid electric car since July. His apartment complex doesn’t have a charging station, so he uses the public one at City Market.

“If there were more EV stations nearby where I could plug in and move my vehicle or some sort of system, it would be a lot more convenient for me to charge,” Graham said.

Hinesburg resident Joe Pasteris drives an EV, too. He does have a charging station at home but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to charge while he’s away from home.

“Just this morning I went to a charger nearby and there were two cars parked already, so I couldn’t charge it,” Pasteris said.

For him, finding one of the 16 universal fast “level 3″ chargers in the state is especially challenging when traveling.

“If the fast charger is occupied then we have to wait or we’re out of luck,” Pasteris said.

That could soon change with funds from the federal infrastructure bill. VTrans plans to spend $21 million installing more charging stations around the state. The thinking is that adding to the already 300 public charging stations would make life easier for those using EVs and might also encourage others to get rid of their gasoline-fueled cars.

“We’re definitely hoping to get more people driving electric. Right now, it’s a little over 5% market share for new vehicle sales in the state are EV,” said David Roberts, the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

Exactly how many new chargers are added will depend on how many of them are high-speed level 3 chargers. Those can cost a quarter of a million apiece and charge your car in 20-30 minutes.

Slower level 2 charges are much cheaper at about $10,000 apiece, but they take about four hours for a full charge.

“We could really use fast charging,” said Darren Springer, the general manager of the Burlington Electric Department.

The idea of adding fast chargers is attractive to Springer. Burlington Electric is one group of many working with the state on incentivizing customers with a rebate to go electric.

“People who are coming through Burlington from out of town want to stop and shop here, or maybe are coming from work and want to charge, or maybe someone that’s a renter that has no place to charge at home and wants to charge,” Springer said.

VTrans is working on a plan to have a fast charger within 5 miles of every interstate interchange and every 50 miles along the state highway network.

If you’re a Tesla driver, these charging stations would work with your adaptor. And while Tesla charger stations are a product of a private company, VTrans says they could see a merging of systems over time because the EV market is heavily increasing.

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