Destination Electric

A public electric vehicle charging station in Dover.

PORTSMOUTH — Forget finding a gas station. Drivers are now asking where they can plug in their car.

With interest in electric vehicles on the rise, business leaders in Portsmouth, Dover and Nashua are raising awareness about public charging stations in their cities.

“Ninety percent of all electric vehicle charging happens at home, and that has to change if we want more electric vehicles in America,” Portsmouth City Councilor Josh Denton said.

Denton has spent the last month getting 29 businesses in Portsmouth to sign up for the Destination Electric initiative, which was launched in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday.

Portsmouth has six public charging stations at the Foundry Place Garage, one station at the Hanover Parking Garage and one station at City Hall’s lower parking lot, among other locations where visitors with electric vehicles can charge up while they shop, eat and enjoy the arts.

The 29 city businesses that signed up for Destination Electric will be providing information about these locations to those who visit them.

“I think this will literally drive more people into Portsmouth because there are electric vehicle chargers,” Denton said.

At the Strawbery Banke Museum, which has approximately 100,000 visitors a year, President Larry Yerdon approved the museum’s participation in the Destination Electric initiative.

“As our mission states, one of our three main objectives is to be a place to learn, a place to gather information and a sustainable resource for the community. We are trying in everything we do to be as green as we possibly can be,” spokesman Stephanie Seacord said.

Strawbery Banke is within walking distance of the city’s public vehicle chargers.

In addition to the participating businesses in Portsmouth, three organizations in Nashua and eight in Dover are taking part in Destination Electric. There are four electric vehicle charging units at the Orchard Street Parking Garage in Dover.

James Martin, public information officer for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said DES helped to facilitate the partnerships between auto manufacturers and Northeast states as part of the “Drive Change Drive Electric” campaign.

“The goal is to show drivers and passengers the convenience and affordability and sustainability of all vehicles,” Martin said.

Automakers involved in the campaign include BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz USA, Volvo Cars, Volkswagen Group, Toyota Motor North America, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and others.

Jessica Wilcox, coordinator of the DES Granite State Clean Cities Coalition, said there are 112 electric vehicle chargers throughout New Hampshire, including 77 universal chargers.

“It’s where we’re heading in life. It’s not the future anymore,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said she hopes the program will grow and more businesses throughout the state will participate in promoting charging stations located near their organizations.