All Charged Up!

A Building Department vehicle charges at the electric vehicle charging station at the Town Hall. Electric vehicles have become more popular over the past few years, especially in Winchester.

WINCHESTER - The Town of Winchester has been making great strides in incorporating electric vehicles into the community.

"Electric Vehicles (EVs) are coming on strong,” Energy Conservation Coordinator Susan McPhee reported. “Residents who own EVs really enjoy them and are very enthusiastic about their cars."

At the end of 2018, there were over 134 EVs and plug-in hybrids in Winchester. The town currently has three dual-head charging stations which means there are three charging locations and each can charge two vehicles at a time. These locations are the Laraway parking lot, near the town green, the Winchester High School, near the light at the railway trestle and the library/Town Hall parking lot. McPhee disclosed that no town funds were spent installing any of these chargers. Laraway equipment was a gift to the town from Cool Winchester (an organization that’s goal is to reduce the annual carbon footprint of 85 percent of the households in town by 25 percent by 2020) and Eversource paid 100 percent of the cost of running all the lines and installing the meter. The WHS and library/Town Hall chargers were paid for by grant funding.

McPhee mentioned that the town can purchase more chargers when they see a rise in the consistency of the current chargers being used. She stated there is an additional conduit in place at both Laraway and WHS so when this demand increases they are ready to inexpensively install additional chargers. She added the hard work of trenching and running lines is already done.

The town has two EVs which are used by inspectors. These EVs replaced standard sedans used by the town. Other departments have purchased hybrids and will look at EVs when there are viable all-electric choices to meet their needs, noted McPhee. The police department is looking at electric options for their vehicles but no decisions have been made yet.

McPhee stated some benefits to having EVs include lower maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, plus they’re very economical and convenient as you can charge them at home just like a phone (minus the trip to the gas station). EVs are also helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions significantly. When driving, EVs have no emissions. She further noted how WinPower supplies residents with 19 percent renewable energy so EVs are emission-free while driving and the power to charge them is 19 percent renewable.

Winchester is doing great with EVs and charging stations as compared to other communities, revealed McPhee, as they have converted all town sedans to EVs, they have three public charging locations and as additional types of vehicles are available with electric drive trains the town will look into purchasing them as needed.

In April an EV ride and Drive event was held at the Laraway site and over 93 people participated.

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