Plug In

State of Massachusetts receives grant to install electric vehicle charging stations.

In July of 2011 the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Department of Energy Resources DOER invited cities and towns statewide to apply for an electric charging station grant. This grant was part of a settlement obtained by Attorney General Martha Coakley ‘s office in 2007 for alleged pollution-control equipment violations by an Ohio-based power plant.

Program funding amounting to $384,000 was made available to 25 cities and towns for 94 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, through a partnership between the Obama Administration and Coulomb Technologies of California. Additional financial support came from Coulomb Technologies, which received a U. S. Department of Energy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant to provide equipment installation and re-granted awards in the form of charging stations to Massachusetts cities and towns.

ARRA funding devoted to the Coulomb’s Charge- Point America program, totaled one-half a million dollars for the state. Nationally the program funding amounted to 37 million dollars and provided charging stations to 10 regions of the country including greater Cambridge- Boston. Cambridge represented one of two cities located on the Charles River including Boston that has created a two tier EV charging network.

The city has built three municipal EV charging stations from grant funding from the Department of Energy resources (DOER) at locations throughout the city. The city has also worked with seven private partners to install the stations in places that are accessible to the public, near frequently visited locations and accessible to residential areas.

Municipal charging stations are open at three locations within the city. At the Department of Public Works facility located on 147 Hampshire Street there is one dedicated charging space at the front of the building
for either a level one and two charge. On the First Street garage 2nd level entrance on Spring Street there is a dedicated charging space for two cars at the same time for a level 2 charge.

At the City Lot-5 on Bishop Allen Drive between Norfolk and Douglas Street there is a dedicated charging space for two cars at the same time for a level 2 charge. According to John Boldu, Community Development planner for the city, Cambridge was allocated state funding involving the receiving of three EV-charging stations. Coulomb was the manufacturer and sponsor of the program because they received a federal ARA grant.

Private corporate partners including CambridgeSide Galleria, Cambridge Center, Holyoke Center, The Charles Hotel, Pilgrim Parking , the MBTA and MIT have located EV charging stations at their properties for residents, students and workers to use.

This corporate support allows the City of Cambridge to make Coulomb’s nationwide ChargePoint system of high tech charging facilities available locally. This network of charging stations offers cutting edge features for EV drivers including the ability to use smart phone apps to locate the nearest charging stations and manage their charging sessions remotely.

Coulomb’s ChargePoint system is the largest online global charging network connecting electric vehicle drivers to charging stations in more than 14 countries. All of the private charge stations provide at least a level 1 and most a level 2 charge. Forest City Enterprises the developer and manager of University Park at MIT the 27 acres life science park comprised of over 1 million square feet of biotechnology space, 675 apartments , three parking garages, LeMeridien Hotel and Shaw’s supermarket provides three ev-charging stations operated by a second electric vehicle solutions company referred to as Car Charging Group (CCG).

CCG represents a nationwide provider of convenient electric vehicle EV charging services. CCG utilizes the same EV charging stations manufactured by ChargePoint. This is known as Level II, which provide 240 volts with 32 amps of power to quickly refuel an electric vehicle’s battery. In the March 29, 2012 city-press release Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy commented “Electric vehicles will become more common in the U.S., and especially in a community like Cambridge that is technology-savvy and likes to be on the cutting edge.

The City is being forward-looking and starting to provide the EV charging infrastructure that will be needed to support these vehicles. We see this as being a key part of Cambridge’s initiative to be a climate-friendly community. The City appreciates the support of DOER, Coulomb, and our partners.”

According to the Community development Department public infrastructure for EV’s will play an important role for making electric vehicles available within the city in the next few years. Providing charging stations will enable city departments and the greater Cambridge community to take advantage of the benefits that EV cars can provide.

These benefits include lower fuel costs and fewer emissions than fuel powered cars. Jay Kiely, Property Manager for Forest City Enterprises at University Park at MIT said: “We are thrilled to offer this service to the University Park community,” Cambridge municipal charging stations cost $1.25 per hour for the use of the station with a- level 2 charge 4 to 6 hours and a level one EV charge takes 8 to 12 hours.

The hourly fee has been set to meet three goals: cover the cost of electricity, cover the administrative fees associated with offering EV charging station services, and keep the cost per mile for electricity lower than the cost per mile for gas.

-Robert Sondak

Robert Sondak is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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