If you’re leaf-peeping in western Connecticut in your Nissan Leaf, you can always stop at the Minor Memorial Library in Roxbury, check out a few books and charge the car’s batteries.
“We’re on the map,” said Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry.
Ditto the town halls in Kent and New Fairfield, and Bridgeport Hall in Newtown — all have electric vehicle changing stations.
There are two stations each in Bethel, New Milford and Ridgefield and a handful in Danbury. Mayor Mark Boughton said the city now is applying for a grant to add five more at the City Hall parking lot.
But in some small towns — including Redding, Brookfield, and Bridgewater — you have to hum down the road to another town to power up.
Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read acknowledged that in the future, more people will be driving electric cars. But in a small town like Bridgewater, he said, it may not be cost-effective for the town to install a charging station.
“Who pays for it?” he said. “Is it appropriate in a rural town?”
This is one of the issues the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection raises in its draft report “Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut” released in October.
In fact, the report says, people in rural towns — who have to drive farther to commute to work, run errands, or just to shop — would benefit more by having electric cars. Because they have to drive more, owning a gas-powered car means spending more money on gasoline and on car repairs.
Electric vehicles will save them a lot of that money. And, instead of polluting the air, they’ll be driving a clean car, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3 metric tons a year — nearly twice the pollution reduction achieved by urban drivers who switch to electric vehicles, but drive shorter distances.
“The benefits of EV adoption in rural towns are significant,” the report said.
People can read the draft at: https://bit.ly/34g5fB8
They have until Nov. 11 to send written comments on the draft. These comments can be filed electronically on the DEEP Energy Web Filing webpage or submitted by email to DEEP.EnergyBureau@ct.gov
The agency wants to greatly increase the number of electric cars on the state’s roads. Connecticut should have 125,000 to 150,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025, the report says, and 500,000 by 2030.
By doing so, it will reduce air pollution. Currently, nearly 40 percent of the state’s air pollution comes from internal combustion motor vehicles.
“There are multiple sources of pollution,” said Keri Enright-Kato, the DEEP’s director of the Office of Climate Change, Technology and Research. “But automobiles play a large role.”
And because the state is committed to reducing air pollution levels to 45 percent of what they were in 2001 by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050, cutting automobile pollution is a way to reach those levels.
But to get people to drive them, there have to be far more charging stations.
Connecticut has 344 changing station in the state, with 823 outlets. Of these, only 34 are direct-current fast chargers, which can charge a car in an hour or so.
The DEEP report says to get people driving electric vehicles, those numbers should rise to 5,858 workplace chargers and 3,848 public charging stations, with 282 of these being fast-charging stations.
Enright-Kato said that 80 percent of electric car owners in the state charge their cars at home. But having public electric charging stations as available as gas pumps will put electric car drivers at ease.
“It will reduce range anxiety,” she said.
The DEEP report also said that electric cars make ideal fleet vehicles — the cars driven by state or municipal employees short distances every day. The City of Hamden now has a pilot program testing electric buses. One of Ridgefield’s fleet cars is a Nissan Leaf.
As the cost of batteries goes down, and the range of electric cars increases, people will start buying more of them. They’re more economical to drive, they pollute less, and they’re quieter.
That’s happening now. Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said there are always people using the town’s charging station.
“It’s busy all day long,” he said.
In Bethel, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said the town’s two charging stations used to be vacant.
“Now, I say we see cars in there half the time,” he said. “Sometime next year, I’d like to double what we have.”
Contact Robert Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org