As part of a host of green-energy efforts, Keene is working on a set of guidelines to help people make their properties electric vehicle friendly.
On Wednesday, the city’s Energy and Climate Committee heard a presentation on draft guidelines about how to construct buildings with electric-vehicle (EV) infrastructure or update existing buildings to support such infrastructure. The draft was created by Keene State College senior Julia Anselmo.
Promoting infrastructure to support EVs is one element of the city’s plan to use 100 percent renewably sourced electricity throughout Keene by 2030 and renewable thermal and transportation energy by 2050. The City Council adopted the roadmap for achieving this goal in January.
EV-readiness means that “residential and commercial developments have energized electrical outlets installed at the time of construction that are capable of charging an EV when a charging station is installed in the future,” Anselmo explained, quoting a definition used in the city of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
Electric vehicles are often billed as a tool for fighting climate change because they cause less air pollution than gas-powered vehicles. According to the Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis, electric vehicles generally drive around 250 miles on a charge, though some can go farther.
Making a building EV-ready during its initial construction can be four to six times cheaper than trying to add EV infrastructure to an existing building, according to Anselmo. She said new developments in Keene are not currently required to install this infrastructure but that it should be “highly encouraged.”
There are three different levels of charging stations, Anselmo said: AC level 1, AC level 2 and a DC fast charger. The charging infrastructure a home or business should install depends on how it would be used, she explained.
“A level 1 or a level 2 is good for residential,” she said, “compared to level 2 or a DC fast charger, [which] would be best for commercial use.”
Energy committee Chairman Peter Hansel said he has a level 1 charger in his home, and it can be slow to charge his vehicle if the battery is particularly low. The city should encourage homeowners and apartment building owners to install level 2 systems, he said.
Meanwhile, the committee also heard from member Jude Nuru, who is in its EV workgroup, which has also been looking at ways to promote accommodations for electric vehicles locally. Nuru said there can be a fire risk with EVs, and that the workgroup had discussed making training available from the Keene Fire Department to help people learn to mitigate those risks.
In addition, Nuru said the workgroup discussed reaching out to area energy companies, such as Eversource, to see what support they can provide for people interested in installing EV infrastructure, and also putting information on the city’s website to help answer any questions.
The workgroup also found that it’s rather difficult for people to locate public charging stations in the Keene area, Nuru said, and he asked if the city has a way of tracking this information so it could be shared. He noted that the group also discussed potential incentives to encourage people to install EV infrastructure.
“As part of our broader goal, our aim is to keep working hard to create an EV-friendly community in Keene,” he said.
In Keene, there are two level 2 charging stations at the Commercial Street lot owned by the city, and another has been installed on property owned by Antioch University at 40 Avon St., said City Planner Mari Brunner. Several auto dealerships in the area have charging stations as well, though the nearest DC fast charger is in Brattleboro, she said.
The market has been trending toward electric vehicles, and Keene needs to be prepared for that, Hansel said. According to the draft guidelines, which cite the International Energy Agency, there were only about 17,000 EVs on the road globally in 2010, but closer to 17.2 million by 2019.
Brunner said that the guidelines are simply that — a guide to help interested people with the process of installing EV infrastructure. She said the committee will edit the draft for content and clarity and then publish it to the city’s website.