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Winchester businesses plug into electric vehicle charging stations

Bonnell Ford in Winchester is just one business providing charging stations for electric vehicles. COURTESY PHOTO/STEVE BONNELL

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A growing number of businesses in Winchester are designating parking spots for electric vehicle owners in an effort to make it easier for residents to make the switch to electric.

Steve Bonnell, president of Bonnell Ford on Cambridge Street, has begun to take steps in playing his part, adding nine electric vehicle charging stations around the dealership.

“[It was] a Ford mandate that we needed to install six of the level two charging stations, which we did,” Bonnell said. “Then, three of the level three DC (direct current) chargers, which are the fast chargers, and that just got completed, too.”

Looking for an electric vehicle charging station? Bonnell Ford has added stations for drivers in Winchester. COURTESY PHOTO/STEVE BONNELL

One of the main reasons drivers are reluctant to buy electric vehicles is the lack of charging stations, said Bonnell.

“So Ford’s kind of thought process is that if, you know, there’s 2000 of us Ford dealers across the country, if we all do this, there’s going to be that many more charging stations across the country,” Bonnell said.

Bonnell also explained that some consumers are still on the fence about electric vehicles, but there are many other benefits.

“If you buy [an electric vehicle], you’re able to take a tax credit off of your tax return. The public’s still concerned about the’s a fun car to drive. There’s really no negatives to driving an electric car other than the charging worries,” he said.

Jay Gill, Bonnell’s father-in-law, and the recently retired director of public works for Winchester for the past 11 years, discussed the type of conversations that go on with public officials from other towns when it comes to implementing new additions such as electric vehicle charging stations.

“We always talk to counterparts about what pieces of equipment we could get that’s electric,” said Gill. “There were some nice electric sweepers that we tried out but they were almost double or triple the cost for a diesel one.”

Other members of the town staff also consider these issues, such as Director of Sustainability Ken Pruitt.

Pruitt also understands the importance of EV charging stations and the type of impact they can have on the community as a whole.

“The reason public EV charging stations are so important is that a lot of people don’t have it attached to a single family home, where they can have their own EV charging station installed in their garage or driveway,” Pruitt said. “So for those people, the only way they can have an electric car is if they can charge it somewhere in public.”

The DC chargers offer a faster, more efficient charge compared to a normal EV station, according to Pruitt. Many drivers who are hesitant to own an electric vehicle say they take too long to charge, he said.

“They can just go to the DC fast chargers, fill up their batteries and then go back home again, all during the time it takes them to go grocery shopping or have dinner,” Pruitt said.

Aside from Winchester, surrounding towns such as Arlington have continued to put green energy at the forefront. Talia Fox, director of sustainability in Arlington, explained some additions they’ve made in terms of EV stations and other green energy initiatives.

“We just put in two new, public level II charging ports at our middle school this past fall,” Fox said. “We have two more planned to go in at our DPW facility, but we’re waiting on construction over there to wrap up. We are looking into adding additional charging stations in town as funding allows.”

Bonnell Ford recently added several electric vehicle charging stations for customers. COURTESY PHOTO/STEVE BONNELL

Fox said Arlington created a community-wide program which they called “Electrify Arlington” to persuade residents to make the switch from fossil fuels to electricity in their homes and vehicles.

“Through this program, we provide information on rebates and other resources to support the purchase of an EV,” Fox said.

Fox elaborated further on what the town offers, including classes and effectives partnerships.

“We have also had classes on EVs and on how to make a plan to electrify your home, which includes information about upgrading your electrical panel to accommodate EV charging,” Fox said. “We have partnered with organizations like Green Energy Consumers Alliance, which provides a lot of EV resources for Massachusetts residents.”

Jonny Ratner is a student at Endicott College studying journalism.

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