Turners Falls getting first electric car chargers

  • One of several electric vehicle charging stations behind the Greenfield City Hall. Three charging kiosks are planned for Turners Falls in the coming months. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • One of several electric vehicle charging stations being used in the Greenfield Parking Garage. Three charging kiosks are planned for Turners Falls in the coming months. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 6:44:27 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Three new electric car charging kiosks are planned for downtown Turners Falls in the coming months.

They will be the first car chargers in Montague, and among relatively few in Franklin County.

Presently the closest car chargers are seven in Greenfield. Farther away, there are four in Shelburne Falls, one at Berkshire East in Charlemont, one at Deerfield Academy and one at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, according to a website called plugshare.com, which maps locations of publicly accessible car chargers. The map shows larger clusters of chargers in and around Amherst and Northampton.

In Turners Falls, one charger is planned for the municipal parking lot on 2nd Street by the Great Falls Discovery Center, one in the 6th Street municipal parking area and one in a gravel parking lot behind the Town Hall parking lot, according to Town Planner Walter Ramsey. Each charging kiosk will be able to charge two cars at a time.

The two chargers in the municipal parking areas are coordinated by the town government, Ramsey said. The third is from FirstLight Hydro Generating Co., which owns the gravel parking lot. These two projects are unrelated, but are happening on similar timelines coincidentally.

Regarding town finances, Ramsey said the only cost associated with the chargers will be a fee of about $2,000 a year, which covers maintenance on the two machines and the computer service used for charging customers.

All costs of construction and installation are covered by Eversource, which offers a funding program for electric car chargers. Eversource’s explanation is that it is contributing to the state’s goal of reaching 300,000 electric vehicles in Massachusetts by 2025, according to Eversource spokesperson Priscilla Ress. The company’s goal is to install 3,500 chargers in Massachusetts by 2020.

The Selectboard, considering whether to take the deal at an Oct. 28 meeting, reasoned that the chargers would probably draw people into Turners Falls from nearby towns or off of Route 2, that they would be a convenience for residents and that the cost is relatively low.

“It seems to me like a public service,” said Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz. “I actually think they would get used.”

The board agreed to the two chargers. The machines will be purchased within the next month and installed this winter, Ramsey said. The town’s contract for the maintenance and computer services involved with the machines is for five years, he said.

FirstLight is unsure when its charger will be available because it does not yet have a date for when Eversource will install the infrastructure, according to Carter Wall, the company’s community relations manager.

The cost of charging from one of the municipal parking lots has not yet been decided by the Selectboard. Wall said the charger in the gravel parking lot will cost the same to use as the town’s chargers.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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