Conn. seeks to boost electric vehicle stations

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Associated Press

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 3:00 AM

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is seeking to more than double the number of electric vehicle charging stations by the end of the year, the state's top environmental and transportation officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation are making $200,000 available to install charging stations. Funding will be awarded to proposals that provide the most matching money, are most accessible to the public and place charging stations in geographically diverse areas.

The money is from a settlement agreement negotiated by the state with Northeast Utilities last year when it bought NStar in Boston.

The goal is to increase the number of charging stations from 81 now to 200 by the end of this year. The cost to install a charging station is up to approximately $1,000 and an additional $5,000 for the station itself, Energy Commissioner Daniel Esty said.

The state is seeking to spur installation of charging stations at colleges, shopping centers, supermarkets, parking garages and other public places, he said. The intent is for electric vehicle owners to be no more 10 to 15 minutes from a charging station to avoid what's known as "range anxiety," Esty said.

"One hundred years ago, it was the same fear with gas stations," he said.

Of the 3 million vehicles registered in Connecticut, 296 are electric, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Most electric vehicles can go about 100 to 200 miles before recharging while gasoline-powered vehicles run more than 300 miles before refueling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

A study by the Congressional Budget Office last month said operating costs are lower for electric vehicles, but they are more expensive to buy. A Chevy Volt, for example, costs about $32,000.

Federal tax credits of between $2,500 and $7,500 help reduce the cost of buying electric vehicles, but the subsidies do not offset the higher lifetime cost of driving electric vehicles, the report said. The CBO study assumes that the tax credits are responsible for about 30 percent of electric vehicle sales.

Brian Wynne, president of Electric Drive Transportation Association, a trade group in Washington, said most public initiatives to boost electric vehicle sales are at the municipal level rather than state.

The model for electric vehicles' acceptance by consumers, he said, is the hybrid vehicle, which operates on electricity and gasoline. Hybrids account for 3 percent of all vehicle sales, Wynne said.

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