By Katy Savage – Chester is one of nine communities getting new electric vehicle charging stations with the help of a $25,000 grant.
Two charging stations, to be installed on Cobleigh Street in late summer, will be able to recharge four electrical vehicles at once.
Chester Executive Assistant Julie Hance said that electrical vehicles and sustainability are part of Chester’s recently updated village master plan, which includes better bike and pedestrian pathways and informational signage.
“We’re happy,” Hance said. “We can do a lot with grants.”
The grant money totaled $400,000. It comes from a $3.6 million settlement with Volkswagen for for violating the Clean Air Act. Forty-seven towns applied for the grant, Agency of Commerce and Community Development Downtown Program Manager Gary Holloway said. Towns were selected based on need and demand.
“This grant program is an important step in building a statewide electric vehicle charging network,” Gov. Phil Scott said in a press release. “Promoting electric vehicle use will… move us closer to our renewable energy goals, while making transportation more affordable for Vermonters as we work together to grow a cleaner economy.”
Vermont legislators set a goal in 2016 for the state to have a 99 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2050. However, a report released by Energy Action last spring shows the state is not on track to reach that.
The 2017 annual report showed Vermont’s emissions had increased 4 percent since 1990 and has been increasing since 2011, despite declining from 2004-2011.
The report last year said Vermont’s energy use was 20 percent renewable, up from 12 percent in 2010, but not keeping pace with the 2050 goal. A second report with updated numbers will be released March 4.
Energy Action Executive Director Jared Duval said the most polluting factor is transportation. “Additional charging stations is one part of that puzzle that’s really important,” he said. “The more we can do to shift our transportation and thermal sectors to renewable efficient electricity, the more we can do to reduce overall energy use.”
There were about 3,000 electric vehicles registered the state and 203 public charging stations.
David Roberts, a coordinator for Drive Electric Vermont said 500,000 Vermonters will need to be driving electric cars by 2050 to meet the energy goals if the state doesn’t find alternatives.
“We have our work cut out for us,” he said.
The grants were awarded for level 2 or level 3 charging stations. Consumers will be able to charge their cars in about 4-6 hours on a depleted battery.
Other communities selected for the grants include Highgate, Norwich and Warren, Montpelier, Marlboro College, Vermont Law School; City Place in Burlington and Healthy Living Market in South Burlington.
“Expanding our charging network makes it easier for Vermonters and visitors to go electric,” Roberts said.
Over the next several years, the grant program will give $2.4 million to Vermont communities to fund EV charging stations. Applications for the second round of grant funding will be due April 30. The second round of grants will be awarded in late June.