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Derry council OKs Tesla gift, will install 4 electric vehicle chargers at municipal center

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent

January 18. 2018 10:11PM




DERRY – The Derry Town Council this week voted unanimously to accept a $10,000 gift from emerging automaker Tesla to install four electric vehicle charging stations at the municipal center parking lot.

Installation of the four units, which would be the first public EV stations in Derry, are expected this spring. Tesla will cover more than 75 percent of the total cost of the project, although the town is currently on the hook for the electricity utilized at the stations.

Mike Fowler, director of the Derry Department of Public Works, told the council on Tuesday night Tesla will provide the hardware for the units — the site is ideal for Level-2 charging stations — at an estimated value of $4,000 and subsidize $6,000 of the $8,377 installation costs provided by Brentwood-based ReVision Energy, the car company’s local provider.

Derry’s total cost for the equipment and installation is $2,377.

Three of the EV charging stations are solely for Tesla models, but the fourth is a Clipper Creek that is nonproprietary and is available to any electric vehicle.

“Basically most vehicles will achieve a full charge in about four hours,” Fowler said. “The charging units will be available to the general public 24 hours a day, seven days a week; obviously except for emergencies, during wintertime.”

The municipal center lot has an existing power feed, meter and pedestal installed for the farmer’s market when it was located on McAllister Court, making it an ideal location for the charging stations.

Advocates say the units are not necessarily for town residents who own electric vehicles, but for out-of-staters traveling to or from the White Mountains who have models that would require charging stations. The hope, according to council Chairman Joshua Bourdon, is to make Derry a viable option for motorists to stop, eat and shop in the downtown.

New Hampshire has about 70 such stations, according to solvingev.com. There are nearly 400 all-type stations within a 30-mile radius of Derry.

The town would initially take responsibility for the electricity supply cost, Fowler said, but that figure should not exceed $1,500, based on feedback from Portsmouth’s experience with EV units.

Some councilors were lukewarm to any annual cost associated with the electricity, but Fowler said the town has a right to set a fee to recover any lost revenue.

“I think that’s a step that follows quickly behind this if you do choose to move forward with the grant,” he said to Councilor at-Large Phyllis Katsakiores, who expressed concern that motorists taking advantage of the free charge would sit in their vehicles and play on their phones instead of walking to one of the downtown restaurants.

Skeptics also worried about only having the one universal charging station, to which Fowler said there is an adapter in the form of a $200 hardwired cord that could convert the three Tesla units so any EV model could utilize them. The town has three master electricians who could likely install the equipment and repair the machines if needed, he added.

District 1 Councilor Richard P. Tripp called the proposal interesting and backed the grant because of the low cost to the town and the ability to convert the charging stations so they are more accessible.

“I’m in favor of going forward with this,” he said.


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