Blog : If You Build an EV Charging Station, They Will Come

By Katelyn | Sep 23, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord

According to 2013 figures from the Alternative Fuels Data Center by the U. S. Department of Energy, there are more than 20,600 public electric charging stations/outlets in the country. This is a dramatic leap from 2011 when there were only around 2,000 such outlets.

The recent addition of a free EV Charging station at Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth is a sign of the changing times. Located at Pease International Tradeport, the Redhook Brewery charging station was facilitated by a $3,000 rebate from PSNH, the largest utility in New Hampshire. PSNH has also established four other charging stations that are free and open to the public. The other sites are at the Elm Street Parking Garage in Nashua and at Antioch University in Keene with two locations soon to be announced. The Redhook site will be the only one on the Seacoast.

Alden Tansey of Kittery, Maine, attended the unveiling of the Redhook Brewery EV charging station in September. The retired engineer and his wife Daria began leasing a Ford C-Max Energi in July and said the growth of charging stations reflects market demand for electric cars and plug-in hybrids like his.

“It’s a chicken or the egg dilemma. Will more electric cars lead to more charging stations or will the availability of more charging stations lead to more people buying electric cars?” Tansey said. “It’s huge to have a free charging station close to us.”

Julia Person, the sustainability manager for Redhook Brewery, said the collaboration with PSNH on the EV charging station – which is a first for Redhook – was a partnership outgrowth from previous energy efficiency initiatives.

“PSNH approached us and asked if we would be interested in participating in the innovative program that was being offered to a very limited number of customers,” Person said. “We’ve worked closely over the years with PSNH on a variety of energy efficiency measures, and they have been an excellent and important resource to Redhook.”

PSNH spokeswoman Lauren Collins said PSNH was following in the footsteps of earlier efforts by its parent company Northeast Utilities. “We got the ball rolling on the rebate program late last year after seeing an uptick of interest in electric vehicles in New Hampshire and a growing number of new EV models becoming available in the state,” Collins said. To be chosen to participate in the one-time rebate program, the EV charging station had to be free and open to the public.

In addition to hosting the EV charging station, Redhook is also purchasing renewable energy credits to not only cover the cost of the charging station but also for the entire Portsmouth facility.

“We are excited to offer this as a perk to our customers,” Person said. “We will continue to look for ways to increase our stewardship in our local communities and expand our sustainable business practices.”

Redhook Brewery is a Business Partner of the Green Alliance, a Portsmouth organization representing more than 100 local green businesses, along with nearly 4,000 consumer members. Green Alliance helped promote the opening of the EV charging station at Redhook and has pledged complimentary membership cards to electric car users who stop by Redhook for a free EV charge.

With their plug in hybrid lease, the Tanseys are part of a growing market shift to electric vehicles. Also according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, in 2013 there were 55,976 all-electric vehicles and 43,828 plug-in hybrids sold in the United States. In 2010, there were 19 all-electric vehicles and 326 plug in hybrids sold.

Before leasing his plug in, Tansey said he researched everything from the new generation of lithium ion batteries (easier to air cool and better for harsher climates) to the amount of difficult-to-recycle rare earth magnet material used in the hybrid drives. He decided to lease in part because he believes “many new improvements” for electric vehicles will be coming soon and he figured leasing was the best option for now.

His plug in can go between 22 to 25 miles on all electric before the gas engine kicks in and becoming accustomed to the charging logistics can take time. A level 2 charger (such as the one at Redhook) can take up to two and one-half hours to fully charge. At home, Tansey plugs in at night with a slower charging process that can take seven hours. Tansey took advantage of a Central Maine Power program of switching to digital metering which allows him to save .052 per kilowatt hour by using electricity during off-peak periods.

Compared to the older model gas vehicle he replaced, Tansey estimates he has cut monthly vehicle operating costs almost in half to $63 per month while getting between 90 to 95 miles per gallon during the first month of operation which included two long road trips. He said the second month was even better with five gallons of gas purchased and 850 mostly local miles driven. Courtesy of a phone app, he can also track his decreased environmental impact

“We saved about 2,500 pounds of Co2 emissions,” he said.

In addition to encouraging the growth of EV charging stations, gathering data is an important aspect of the PSNH program. “Northeast Utilities has similar programs in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts which helped us learn a lot of information about how charging station use and what it takes to get to install the infrastructure,” Collins said. “In those cases, it was a good catalyst to help municipalities and businesses get started.”

Green Alliance Members receive 10% off all food at Redhook! Not a member? Join here!