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Connecticut to Receive $52M for EV Charging Network Expansion

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved $52.5 million in funding for the state to build on its existing base of electric vehicle chargers over the next two years.

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(TNS) — With Connecticut still trailing a handful of other Northeast states for electric vehicle adoption, the state is pushing ahead to expand the options for people to charge up their batteries — whether at home or on the road.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved $52.5 million in funding for Connecticut to build on its existing base of electric vehicle chargers over two years. The funds must be used to meet the needs of "alternative fuel corridors" along major highways, as designated by DOT, before states can consider other locales for charging stations. The entirety of Connecticut's sections of Interstates 9, I-91, I-84 and I-395 qualify, as well as Route 7 running north from Norwalk.

Separately, Connecticut is nine months into the first year of an Electric Vehicle Charging Program that will run nine years, covering up to half the cost of chargers for public areas and workplaces. Homeowners can apply for rebates of up to $500 for in-home chargers, plus that much extra to defray the cost of any wiring upgrades.

Under the program, electric vehicle owners can get rebates if they curtail charging at the request of utilities Eversource and United Illuminating during periods of peak power consumption, to lessen strain on the grid.

"It's a little different than going out to your local gas station," said Charles Spence, a manager with Orange-based Avangrid who is leading the company's planning for electric vehicle chargers, speaking in June during a webinar on the Connecticut program. "It's definitely a lifestyle change, but we're thinking it's going to be a little bit easier in the long run."

Despite higher percentages of affluent households than most states, Connecticut ranked near the bottom third nationally for increases in electric vehicle registrations in 2021, with the count increasing by nearly half from 2020. As of last December, Connecticut ranked 14th among states for electric vehicles as a percentage of all vehicle registrations, with California tops and New Jersey fourth to lead the Northeast. Connecticut also trails Massachusetts and New York for percentages of electric vehicles.

As of Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy listed nearly 1,300 public chargers in Connecticut at 465 designated stations. Just over 100 of them are in Hartford, with Stamford the next closest with about 75 public chargers. DOE lists just a dozen public chargers at a handful of locales in Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut by population.

ChargePoint, Electrify America, EvGo and Volta are among the networked charging station providers with Connecticut locations.

For homeowners, the Connecticut incentives can be used for "level two" chargers, those requiring a 240-volt socket that can add as much as 60 miles of drive time with each hour of charging. Public charging stations with level-three devices can provide that charge in less than a third of that time.

In the first year of the program, Eversource and Avangrid have qualified chargers from just two manufacturers under the program: ChargePoint and EnelX. An Eversource spokesperson told CTInsider on Monday that a dozen more are under consideration to be added as qualified for Connecticut's program.

About 100,000 electric vehicles will have to be sold in the coming three years for Connecticut to hit its targets as part of a drive to reduce greenhouse gases, on top of the nearly 25,500 registered as of July with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

Today, about one of every 114 cars and light trucks in Connecticut is plugged in to recharge; if the state hits its goal, that ratio would be reduced to one in every 23 vehicles, based on the total count of 2.9 million registered with DMV.

Even as public charging stations gain traction, property owners and businesses continue to install charging stations, including Blink Charging which has two dozen in Connecticut.

"It's not necessarily about the cost of the fuel which is electricity, because it just happens to be a hell of a lot cheaper than ... using gasoline," said Blink Charging CEO Michael Farkas, speaking in August on a conference call. "Yes, you have a choice of a car to buy — you can still buy a Ford or Mercedes or BMW, but really, the power source for mobility has been chosen and it's EV. And the only shortcoming that EVs have is what we do, which is making sure that there is a fuel supply for them."

©2022 The Hour, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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