Vehicle charging stations may come to Derry
By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY — The accelerating market for electric vehicles has Derry’s Net Zero Task Force eyeing possible sites for charging stations in town.
Barry Woods, director of electric vehicle innovation with the renewable energy contracting company ReVision, said the infrastructure for these all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars is quickly building around the country. Communities like Derry, he said, can invest early in distinct locations perfect for motorists traveling through on vacation or for those looking for a good restaurant downtown.
“There are some municipalities that are becoming creative about investing in high-visibility solar EV sites. Usually they have multiple benefits,” Woods told the task force on a teleconference call Thursday night. “Certain towns see the way on this and try to push it.”
There are now 35 different models for these vehicles on the market. The Northeast has lagged behind states such as California in adopting electric vehicles, known as EVs, although Woods said towns that invest now can distinguish themselves to businesses and garner more visiting motorists if the stations are available here.
Jeff Moulton, chairman of the task force, recommended the creation of a subgroup to further study the issue. He asked what is the town’s objective in bringing EV charging stations here and where the appeal is coming from.
“Are we trying to get the person coming down from Canada? Are we trying to get the local people?” he said.
The town needs to determine “who are we trying to attract, what usage and charge times would they be looking for, so we zero-in on a particular solution,” he added.
Joshua Bourdon, the task force’s vice chairman and Town Council liaison, said the town should appeal to all EV motorists to stick with the group’s net-zero philosophy.
“There’s an opportunity right now, being so early, that we could be one of the few communities with this and attract those people who are on their way up to the mountains or wherever,” he said. He noted the growing number of electric vehicles in the Manchester parking lot where he works as a sign the future market.
“I think it’s real, I think it’s coming,” Bourdon added. “I feel like there’s an opportunity, and it makes sense.”
As the technology improves and the demand for electric vehicles jumps, so will the expectations, according to Woods. Cumulative sales of plug-in electric vehicles have been growing steadily since 2011.
“We’re seeing these cars starting to take their place pretty aggressively in the market,” Woods said. “I think certain towns see the light on this and try to push it.”
New Hampshire needs to show it is ready for this technology, he continued. Seventy Level-2 charging sites – Level 2 is the most common for business and municipal use – are currently in the Granite State for an estimated 1,000 plug-in vehicles, but there are nearly 400 all-type stations within a 30-mile radius of Derry, according to solvingev.com.
Larger shopping centers in southern New Hampshire, including the malls in Nashua and Salem, have installed chargers.
Some states, like Maine, are already working with leaders in Quebec to blueprint an electric vehicle corridor for travelers. The recent settlement with auto manufacturing giant Volkswagen will stream millions of dollars back into the states, of which a small percentage could go to EV charging station development.
Woods acknowledged most EV charging occurs with the motorist’s home charger during off-peak periods. Others take advantage of stations at their jobs.
But while there is a small percentage of public stations, they are extremely important because they are the most visible and critical to long-distance driving.
New Hampshire does not need thousands of chargers, Woods said, there just needs to be enough strategically placed to help drive new business.