State Program May Lighten Electric Vehicle ‘Range Anxiety’

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Ruben Flores and Maria Llanos are looking for an electric vehicle.

While the couple is sold on the idea of a vehicle with a smaller carbon footprint, there are two main reasons they haven’t purchased yet: they want to wait until they own a home so they can install a charging station, and Flores and Llanos have some concerns about how far they can drive with the car.

Flores works in Bristol, Llanos in New Haven and they live in Middletown.

The State of Connecticut announced a program Tuesday to ease the latter concern, referred to as “range anxiety.” Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty set a goal of more than doubling publicly-accessible charging stations in the state from 80 to 200 by the end of the year.

The state will partner with public and private organizations to build Class 2 charging stations across the state, contributing $2,000 to the estimated $4,000 to $6,000 cost of construction for each charging station. Class 2 stations supply 240 volts of power, which recharge EVs in a shorter period of time than a standard house current. The time is takes to fully charge the batteries depends on the model of car.

“By the end of this year we will be able to say that Connecticut is electric vehicle friendly across the state,” Esty said. “You’ll always be within ten or fifteen minutes of a charging station.”

Flores and llanos liked the idea of the state’s new program.

On Tuesday, the couple attended an EVConnecticut Electric Vehicle Expo at Middlesex Community College in Middletown to see the latest options. They like the Honda Fit, but said there are very few available.

Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Tesla, are among the manufacturers of EVs sold in the United States. Unlike a hybrid vehicle, which has a gas engine, an EV have only battery-powered electric motors.

As of Tuesday, there were 298 EVs registered in the state, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, more than triple the 98 registered in September 2012.

The cost to power an EV in the state is less than half the price of gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with an EV costing $1.70 in Connecticut to cover the same distance as the average car would cover with a gallon of gas.

Lease prices for EVs start at $199 per month. The Federal government offers a $7,500 income tax credit in the year of purchase to EV buyers. Retailers get that tax credit for leased EVs, but may pass some or all of it on to customers. There is currently no state incentive for EV buyers.

While no partners for the charging station program have yet been identified, the state is “expecting a strong response,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said.

UI has piloted 15 charging stations and 2 residential units across the company’s territory, Megan Pomeroy, of United Illuminating said, with a few more being added this year.

The company is asking EV owners who use UI charging stations in New Haven, Fairfield and Bridgeport to share data, including what types of cars their driving, how long their cars need to charge, what time of day their charging them and how often, in order to gauge the habits of an EV drivers.

“UI is committed to developing the necessary infrastructure and grid reliability to support future widespread use of plug-in vehicles,” Pomeroy said.


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