Derry pulls plug on electric car charging stations    

JULIE HUSS/Staff photoDerry town officials plan to shut down four electric car charging stations near the town's municipal center as they ponder how to move forward with providing this service to the public.

DERRY — The town is pulling the plug on four electric car charging stations at the municipal center until officials can analyze how much they are used and the money spent to maintain them.

At a recent meeting, town councilors decided to indefinitely shut down the stations that had been available 24 hours a day, free of charge to electric car owners.

The stations were installed by ReVision Energy in 2018 as a way to support those types of vehicles while also hopefully helping boost downtown businesses that were nearby the stations.

These were the first stations in Derry, although other stations are located in nearby communities and along the interstate.

There was also grant funding to support the charging stations by the Tesla Corp. that helped with installation costs. 

But in the years since, costs have gone up as to what the town pays monthly for the usage and officials pondered putting charges in for customers who use the service.

The original intent was to offer a non-charge service while hopefully attracting more people to the community and patronize the downtown, Councilor Joshua Bourdon said.

Now there are changes in the rate cost structure that made Derry's original bill of $150 to $200 per month jump up to about $600 a month with no big changes in the amount of usage at the stations.

And if the town wanted to start charging customers, specific adaptors would need to be purchased and installed on the stations.

"We might want to reexamine our philosophy," said Public Works Director Mike Fowler.

Fowler added on a monthly basis, about 25 vehicles might be charged at the stations, and it's usually the "same handful" of cars coming every time.

"Why are we taking care of a few people?" Bourdon asked. "That was never the intent. We should look at all the options." 

Councilor Brian Chirichiello said the original plan was to help support economic development and business. He hoped people would come off the highway, stop to charge their cars and enjoy time downtown.

"I wanted the downtown merchants to benefit," Chirichiello said, "But I've heard it's not being used that way."

The amount of usage versus the money spent doesn't seem the right way to go without additional information from the state's public utilities group and ReVision Energy, councilors agreed.

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