HOPKINTON — The Park & Ride commuter lot on Main Street in Ashaway is one of two locations selected by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for a pilot project that will provide free access to electric vehicle chargers. The second charger has been installed in the Warwick Park & Ride.

The program, whose goal is to support the use of electric vehicles, is a collaboration between RIDOT, the Office of Energy Resources and National Grid.

The chargers, which will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will be free until the end of the year. RIDOT and OER will monitor use of the stations, and based on usage will decide whether to open additional charging stations.

RIDOT director Peter Alviti Jr. said the availability of charging stations was an impediment to a wider adoption of electric vehicles.

“Electric cars are becoming more common on our streets, and the commuter parking lots we own are a perfect test bench for us to evaluate the demand for this service,” he said. “There are a number of barriers to electric car adoption, among them concerns about range and access to fast, convenient charging stations. These stations help alleviate those concerns.”

Hopkinton was one of the two sites chosen for the project, RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said, because of its proximity to Interstate 95.

“We assessed locations based on usage, geographic location and available electrical service,” he said. “The Hopkinton site and the Warwick site each have direct access to I-95 and we feel [they] will be used by both regular commuters as well as motorists making longer trips and are looking for easy access to fast charging stations to provide them extended range for their journey. The two fast chargers at each station provide approximately three miles of range per minute of charging. Five minutes provides about 15-20 miles, and 15 minutes provides about 60-70 miles of range.”

State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci noted that the use of electric vehicles was an important step in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Transportation is Rhode Island’s costliest and most carbon-intense energy sector, accounting for 40% of statewide energy expenditures and 36% of our greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “This sector remains heavily dependent on petroleum-based fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, with major implications for long-term environmental sustainability and public health. The adoption of electric vehicles and deployment of charging infrastructure is vital if we are to mitigate the harmful emissions that pollute our communities and contribute to global climate change.”

National Grid is also supporting the pilot project.

“Rhode Islanders all have a deep, shared commitment to the health of our communities and our environment,” Rhode Island National Grid President Terry Sobolewski said. “National Grid is proud to support RIDOT’s pilot program, which is providing free access to EV chargers at two of its Park & Ride commuter lots. As we focus on ways to reduce carbon emissions, encouraging and supporting the use of electric vehicles on our roads is a way National Grid can help Rhode Island move closer to its greenhouse goals.”

The cost of the charging equipment, about $300,000, was shared between RIDOT and OER, with National Grid funding the installation costs.

Information on electric vehicles is available on the state’s website: http://www.energy.ri.gov/transportation/ev/.

cdrummond@thewesterlysun.com

@cynthiadrummon4

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