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Metro Boston is Charging Up: Plug-in to Municipal Best Practices Workshop

Across the Commonwealth, residents are making the switch to electric vehicles, however some are hesitant due to the lack of public charging stations available. One of the biggest fears that electric car owners have is not being able to find a charging station when they are running out of batteries. Unlike gas stations, charging stations are limited in number and is still fairly new technology.

Many cities and towns in Metro Boston are accelerating their efforts to install charging stations to support residents and their municipal fleet, however, taking the first step and figuring out which charging station to purchase and where to install it can be challenging.

To help municipalities address this issue, MAPC’s Clean Energy team developed a Roadmap to Install EV Charging Stations and also partnered with the City of Newton to host an Electric Vehicle charging station workshop that took a deeper dive into everything to consider from procurement to installation of charging stations.

Over 40 people attended the workshop in Newton early Tuesday morning on May 8th. Workshop attendees had the opportunity to learn, engage, and connect with EV charging station vendors, alongside municipalities, and leaders in the region that have experience installing charging stations.

MAPC’s Meg Aki, kicked off the workshop by laying out some key points that municipalities should consider when figuring out the type of charging station to procure: who needs to use the station (city/town employees, residents), how they will use the station (9-5 workday, overnight parking, re-charge midday, etc.), and where they will park (city/town hall lot, at home/workplace, service stations). All these factors play a role in deciding which level or type of charging station will be best fit for the needs of the community including where the station will be located so it can be accessible. She also discussed how municipalities can participate in MAPC’s Green Mobility Group Purchasing Program to save money by buying with other public fleets.

Justin Ries from ChargePoint, one of the world’s largest and most open EV charging networks, picks up the discussion by talking about best practices in both the installation and maintenance of EV charging stations offered by ChargePoint – three charging speed and station options, commercial stations that offer branding and customization, 3G Smart Connectivity, a consumer interface that has functions like tracking energy usage, financials, and power.

Attendees were then divided into small groups to have conversations with community leaders that currently have electric charging stations installed. Groups had the opportunity to engage with the City of Boston (Matt Bradley), City of Newton (Bill Ferguson), the City of Woburn, Town of Waltham, and Town of Winchester (Susan McPhee) to discuss challenges and approaches to charging stations. The groups reconvened and the discussion concluded with vendor presentations by Chris Hermey from Verdek and Kathleen Connors from Voltrek.

Next Steps and Related Opportunities

At MAPC, we want to make sure municipalities are getting the resources needed to transition smoothly into electric vehicle charging stations. In 2018, MAPC is expanding the Green Mobility Group Purchasing Program to include pricing agreements for electric vehicle charging stations and aftermarket conversion technologies. Depending on the level of interest from fleets, Round II may also package charging stations and electric vehicles together into one solicitation. MAPC intends to coordinate group purchases from vendors on the statewide contract on behalf of participating communities during the summer of 2018.

Metro Boston can also use the statewide contract for advanced vehicle technology, VEH102 to purchase charging stations. There is currently six vendors on contract offering a wide range of charging station technologies from the budget friendly to the high-tech and user friendly. Several vendors offer turnkey solutions from site assessment to install and maintenance.

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