ZAP AND DRIVE
NEWPORT - Newport could have an electric car charging station in the near future.The idea is under consideration by the Newport City Renaissance Design Committee's Complete Streets work plan. A presentation was held recently at the VT Downtown networking meeting at the Gateway Center. Speakers included David Roberts, a Transportation Consultant with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and Karin McNeill from the Vermont Public Service Department.Trish Sears, the executive director of the Renaissance Corporation, said an electric car charging station is being considered in future plans, however it is not one of the top priorities for Complete Streets. The first six months of 2013 will address research, including demand and possible locations, with recommendations for the Newport City Planning Commission around June 2013.“We are intrigued by the idea and have asked for more technical assistance from the state and VEIC to determine demand for these stations in Newport based on our close proximity to Canada,” Sears said.There are more Canadians using electric cars than Vermonters and U.S. residents, Sears said. We see this as something we should consider incorporating into our future plans.” Those who drive electrified vehicles (EV) need to know where they can stop for at least a couple of hours to recharge. Guide books are available.Currently those hosting charging stations are installing the equipment and providing electricity free of charge or for a minimal cost of a few dollars. The free charging is an amenity most places are providing and it is a way to entice people to come by and shop.Charging stations are small and discreet and some even look like trees. These stations are used to "top off" the charge. Most charging takes place at the residence overnight. Charging at night helps the electric grid by using power when most other electric appliances are not being used.The trend for buying electric vehicles is on the rise, according to the presenters. In August, there were 151 electrified vehicles in Vermont. By October 3, the number had risen to 200. So far, there is one EV in Newport and it’s owned by Newport City Mayor Paul Monette.The presenters explained the reasons for moving toward the EV. There are health and environmental benefits to using the EVs, as well as moving towards energy independence, Roberts and McNeill said. In 2010, 47 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state of Vermont were from transportation, according to the Department of Public Service statistics.EVs are improving all around. They are looking more modern and sleek and not so much like a futuristic alien craft with a tin can feel. Better batteries are available and technology continues to make the cars more desirable. One draw back is the lack of charging stations and the need to recharge due to limited range. They are a bit more expensive to buy than a standard vehicle. But according to the presenters, EVs need less maintenance than their standard vehicle counterpart. But of course they need some and those studying auto mechanics are also learning how to service EVs as well, McNeill said.