‘It is a no-brainer’: State funds sought for electric vehicle investment in Beacon Falls

An electric vehicle charging unit can be seen in the commuter parking lot at 107 North Main St. in Beacon Falls. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

BEACON FALLS — The town is moving ahead to apply for a state grant to expand its electric car charging station.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved at its special meeting last Tuesday to apply for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) ZEV Infrastructure Program EVSE Grant to install two new level 2 charging stations and upgrade the existing electric infrastructure at the commuter parking lot located at 107 North Main St.

First Selectman Gerard Smith said the project would cost about $150,000 total and the grant is a 25% matching grant or about $37,500.

The deadline to apply for the grant is Friday, Sept. 30, Selectman Michael Krenesky said.

The town has a roughly 8-year-old level 2 EV charging unit at the commuter parking lot. The station was funded almost entirely by a previous DEEP EVSE grant in 2014.

DEEP is making up to $4 million available the first round of electric vehicle supply equipment funding, which includes $3 million for EVSE project grants to fund municipal and state government EVSE infrastructure, according to the DEEP website.

Smith said if the town is able to receive the grant and update its charging station, the town will be able to start charging users to use the charging station right away to offset the cost, but not to make a profit.

The cost of electricity for the current charging station has increased, Smith said.

Michael A. Krenesky. Republican-American

“Its gone from an average of $80 a month to about $300 a month,” Smith said. “So if we leave that one, we’re always going to be paying the bill. If we take that one out and put two in, now we have four Type-2 charging stations that will have the ability to transmit data and that data will allow us now to have a credit system on there.”

Smith said for about $37,500, the town will get a brand new parking lot that would otherwise cost more and be able to recoup that amount through charging customers who use the station.

The two new charging station units will be faster and more efficient than the current one, Smith previously said.

One resident, who attended the special meeting, said the town shouldn’t spend any money for a new charging station when out of town residents currently use the existing station.

“I realize you’re getting a new parking lot but I wouldn’t spend a dime of town money to put charging stations in for somebody else,” David Rybinski said. “I have a picture right here of a car dropped off there this morning from somebody from Waterbury charging their car.”

Rybinski said the town should just take out the charging station.

Krenesky said the town board could make a decision to just do away with the charging station, but it may not be a wise choice.

“We could make that decision,” Krenesky said. “The future is going green and the way the state and the feds are going right now, it’s a utility that, because of the way the market is going and the people are moving on to hybrid as well as fully electric cars, having this here will be a benefit for the town of Beacon Falls.”

Selectman Peter Betkoski agreed with Krenesky.

“It is a no-brainer,” Krenesky said. “It’s the way moving forward.”

Krenesky said town officials will have to put a maintenance contract on the station that would cost an estimated $3,000 annually.

Smith said the maintenance cost could be factored into the charge for customers.

If the town doesn’t receive the grant, town officials may not move forward with the upgrade, Krenesky said.