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Derry sees green in making itself a friendly harbor for electric vehicles

Union Leader Correspondent

July 15. 2018 10:03PM

DERRY — Town officials see an opportunity for this community of 33,000 to become a haven for the growing number of electric vehicles plying busy Interstate 93.

The Net Zero Task Force is collecting information and coordinating efforts with town departments to write a competitive grant application for several new electric vehicle charging stations.

City Councilor Josh Bourdon, who founded and is vice chairman of the Net Zero Task Force, sees electric vehicles as a luxury item at the moment but will soon become commonplace, like cellphones were in the late 1990s.

Bourdon wants Derry to be the first place drivers think of when their Teslas, Nissan Leafs and Chevy Bolts need to get their charge from the power grid.

At a Net Zero Task Force meeting in June, the group discussed installing stations at Central Fire Station, the police station and public library, Derry Opera House, Marion Gerrish Community Center, at Derry schools and school administrative offices and town parking lots.

Jeff Moulton, chairman of the task force, met with the school board recently to discuss the initiative. The bare minimum they would propose is one station at each school, he said.

“Installation cost is the big variable,” he said.

Out of about a dozen buildings mentioned, Moulton said the town could install between one and four stations at a cost of about $500 each.

Dan McKenna, a school board member, polled district teachers and found five presently own electric vehicles.

Beverly Donovan, the town’s economic development director, has likewise polled town employees and Moulton expects to see those results soon.

The task force has also reached out to Pinkerton Academy about conducting its own survey.

The Net Zero Task Force has already installed four EV charging stations at the municipal center at a cost of $10,000, with Tesla picking up $8,000 of that.

Moulton said those stations were installed without the equipment for charging customers, so using them is free.

School board member Derick Anderson asked Moulton to present two cost projections for stations, one that supports users paying and one without that additional hardware and associated cost.

Moulton said he expects the cheaper option will be to forgo the payment equipment, and that a free charge will be the more compelling option for the grant application.

“I don’t believe we need to charge people,” Bourdon said. “We want to be as competitive as possible with the other communities.”

Still, Bourdon said the town could always start charging customers in the future, buying that equipment then. Were it to charge, Moulton estimated customers would pay about $1 per hour.

One way charging stations could be a boon for local business is through advertising.

Bourdon said fellow Councilor Brian Chirichiello had the idea of asking businesses like Cask & Vine or Sabatino’s to sponsor charging stations by paying for the electricity for a year, and in exchange could advertise on the charging station terminal.

New Hampshire received $30.9 million of a multi-billion dollar settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on emissions in diesel vehicles. Part of that money is earmarked to provide grants to install new EV charging stations.

Moulton hopes to have a better estimate of installation costs in a couple weeks. State officials plan to begin accepting grant applications later this summer, he said.

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