Electric car charging

PETERBOROUGH — An electric-vehicle charging station could be installed downtown as early as October, after the selectboard unanimously approved the plan last week.

The town will work with ChargeLab, a California-based company that provides software and infrastructure for charging stations, to install four level-two chargers in the Riverwalk Parking Lot.

Level-two chargers can power 10 to 20 miles each hour of charging, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The goal is to have people walk around downtown and patronize local businesses while their cars charge, Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean said. Selectboard member Bill Kennedy also expects it will attract travelers off the highway.

“If you look at the map of [electric-vehicle] chargers in the area, there’s this big hole,” Kennedy said.

Currently, the nearest charging stations to Peterborough are in Keene, Swanzey, Hancock and Nashua, according to plugshare.com, a community-based online tool that maps out charging stations around the world.

Last year, Peterborough voters approved an article in the town warrant to allocate $35,000 from Greater Downtown Tax Increment Finance District funds for the project.

MacLean collaborated with the ad hoc Peterborough Energy Committee and other town staff to develop a plan for the charging station, which he presented to the selectboard at its July 6 meeting.

The town received proposals from six vendors and decided to move forward with ChargeLab after considering factors like installation costs and how easy it would be to add more chargers to the station in the future.

People will be charged to use the station which is about 75 inches tall, 16 inches wide and 12 inches deep, according to the specification sheet but the rates have not been determined yet, according to MacLean.

Peterborough will pay a monthly fee to ChargeLab for a yearly total of $4,400, and the company will handle billing, credit card processing and maintenance, he said.

The contract is for a lease agreement, so in five years the town can decide either to buy the equipment, opt out and have it removed or renew the lease, according to MacLean.

“Certainly we’re going to learn a lot over the next few years as we go down this path,” he said. “We want to make sure we have flexibility.”

The startup costs, which include the payments to ChargeLab and installing the chargers, come out to $16,190 in the first year. The project will cost $33,950 over five years, not including the cost of electricity.

It’s unclear how much the electricity bill will be each month because it’s dependent on utilization, MacLean said.

“Until we have cars actually charging, we don’t know exactly how these numbers are going to come in,” he said.

Per the recommendation of the vendor, the committee based its cost estimates on the chargers being used 20 percent of the time, which would bring the monthly bill to just under $500, according to MacLean.

There will be a public hearing to discuss what rates people will pay to use the chargers before the selectboard has the final say, MacLean said. Eight percent of the revenue will go to ChargeLab, and the remaining 92 percent will go to the town.

The installation could begin as early as October, according to MacLean. He lauded volunteers and staff for their hard work in creating this proposal.

“It’s something I think we can all get behind and say ... this is how the local government process should work, especially with something brand new like this,” he said.

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.