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Grants Bring First Electric Car Charging Stations to Campus

Faculty, Staff Also Can Save with Incentive Purchase Program

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Electric vehicle owners will soon be able to charge up on campus.

By Ed Brennen

Driving an electric vehicle to campus is about to become an even smoother ride for students, faculty and staff, thanks to a pair of recent grants from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

For starters, the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) Workplace Charging grant will cover half the cost, or nearly $9,000, of three new charging stations — the first of their kind on campus. Transportation Services plans to install one in each parking garage on the university’s three campuses — North, South and East — by the end of the year.

“People using electric vehicles to come to work or school will be able to plug in when they get here,” says Ruairi O’Mahony, the university’s new manager of Transportation Demand Management and Parking Services. “The plan is to give anyone with an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid access to the garages.”

Each of the dual-head stations will be able to charge two electric vehicles (EVs) at once. The wall-mounted Level 2 stations will supply 240 volts (similar to what an electric dryer uses), which gives EVs about 30 miles of driving range per each hour charged.

The second grant, also through the MassEVIP, provides a $7,500 incentive for the university to acquire a Nissan LEAF EV. Faculty and staff can also take advantage of Nissan’s Vehicle Purchase Program which, when combined with existing federal, state and dealer incentives, reduces the Leaf’s $29,000 sticker price to around $14,500 — or a lease rate of around $200 a month.
“The fact that we can offer something like this, along with the stations, is going to be beneficial to our faculty and staff,” O’Mahony says. “It’s going to save them a lot of money, and it also ties in to the university’s overall sustainability mission.”

The second grant also provides $7,500 for another Level 2 dual-head charging station, which will be installed at the soon-to-be-completed Pawtucket Street parking lot across from University Crossing. In addition, the university will receive a $7,500 incentive to purchase an EV through the Nissan program.

O’Mahony says the university will soon be applying for a $50,000 grant — just announced by MassDEP and the state Department of Transportation — that would go toward the purchase and installation of a Level 3 DC fast-charge station at the Pawtucket Street lot.

“Someone who’s coming to University Crossing for a meeting in the Chancellor’s Office, to get lunch or to go to the bookstore, they’ll be able to hook their car up to DC fast-charge station and get an 80 percent charge in 30 or 40 minutes,” says O’Mahony, who notes that the 52-space Pawtucket Street lot is being constructed with conduits already in place to wire future EV stations.

“Now is the right time to start moving forward with this,” says O’Mahony, who adds that he’s already noticed quite a few EVs and hybrids humming around campus. “This is a very small step, but it has potential to grow as we move forward.”