Northern Pass fund pays for 1st North Country fast-charger station for electric vehiclesBy John Koziol
Union Leader Correspondent
May 22. 2016 5:36PM
LANCASTER — As the owner and operator of one of the largest campgrounds in the state, Crosby Peck has a lot of experience with making his guests happy.
Last Friday, thanks to Eversource the owner of Roger’s Campground and Motel added another amenity to his 117-acre property: an electric vehicle fast-charger station.
The only one in the North Country and one of only three in New Hampshire — the others are in Salem and Nashua — the fast-charger station was purchased and installed with a grant from the Northern Pass Transmission project’s Forward New Hampshire Fund.
The $200 million fund, which is to be fully vested once the 192-mile long Northern Pass is built, is intended to stimulate economic growth throughout the state, with an emphasis on the North Country, according to Northern Pass proponents. Earlier this year, Eversource made another “advanced commitment” from the fund when it gave $2 million to Dixville Capital LLC, the company working to renovate, expand and reopen the Balsams resort in Dixville.
Critics have accused Eversource of using the fund to grease the skids for the Northern Pass project, which remains a divisive issue in the northern part of the state. A day prior to the May 20 ribbon-cutting for the fast charger, the NH Site Evaluation Committee, meeting in nearby Whitefield, voted unanimously to extend the deadline for action on Eversource’s application from December until Sept. 30, 2017.
Peck doesn’t take a position on the Northern Pass, a portion of which would go through his property on an existing right-of-way, but he thinks it will eventually be approved.
He explained how, in a conversation he had last year with state Rep. Herb Richardson, R-Lancaster, the growing number of campers who came to Roger’s Campground and Motel with an electric vehicle in tow was a sign of the future needs of not just his customers but visitors in general.
“I told him that I would like to do something that will make tourism a little more available up here, and we talked about electric cars,” said Peck, which then led into a conversation about the Forward NH Fund.
With the fast charger — which can accommodate newer-model electric vehicles — a process that used to last up to a dozen hours or more now takes only about 20 minutes.
The fast charger at Roger’s is free to use by the public, and Peck hopes it will be extensively used and that its popularity will lead to the installation of even more of the devices throughout New Hampshire.
“It gives us a step ahead of the technology world where we’re so often an also-ran,” said Peck, lamenting the fact that the North Country, while a great place to live and visit, doesn’t always enjoy the same access to the latest and newest technology that other parts of the state have.
Eversource’s Paul Ramsey said the fast-charger station at Roger’s Campground and Motel is “…exactly the type of initiative we envisioned when we developed the Forward New Hampshire Fund. It will support tourism, which is so important to the state, and it's an innovative clean-energy solution."
Ramsey added that the fast-charger station was “…one of a limited number of advanced commitments of the Forward New Hampshire Fund," and that when officially established, it will be governed by an advisory board that will review funding requests.
Watson Collins, Eversource’s manager of business development and an expert on electric vehicles, said electric vehicles “are an important and growing segment of the nation’s transportation future,” as well as being part of the state’s energy strategy, which views them as a way of reducing reliance on imported fuels.
“This new fast-charger station is key to providing current and future EV drivers with a sense of security that they can quickly, and cleanly, charge up and get back on the road,” said Collins.