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New Fairfield seeks to adding charging station for electric vehicles

NEW FAIRFIELD — Electric vehicles could soon join the town fleet as part of its effort to become greener — and save money.

The Board of Selectmen submitted a grant application last week to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a charging station that would be set up across from Town Hall. The station would be the first step in adding electric vehicles to the town’s fleet, said First Selectman Susan Chapman.

“We’re trying to create an overall concept of going green,” Chapman said. “This was the first opportunity.”

New Fairfield is also considering installation of solar panels.

If the $10,000 grant is approved, the town would install a station capable of charging two cars at once. Chapman said the town would be able to install the charger this year only if it gets the grant, although it could be included in the budget next year if the grant application is unsuccessful.

Under the grant’s terms, the public would be able to use the charger for free for at least three years.

The town has no electric vehicles in its fleet but Chapman hopes to acquire some as land-use vehicles are replaced in the coming years.

“We want to go green here in New Fairfield,” she said.

She said the electric vehicles would not only be better for the environment, but could also mean savings once gas prices rise again.

Chapman said she was inspired by Ridgefield, where there are two charging stations and an electric vehicle in the town’s fleet.

Ridgefield purchased a Nissan Leaf for about $30,000 using a state grant, said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

The car averages between 65 and 70 miles per charge, which Marconi said isn’t enough for him to get to Hartford but is perfect for driving around town. Members of the town’s parking authority use it, too, making it unnecessary for the town to reimburse them for using their own cars.

Marconi said the town decided to buy the vehicles and install the charging stations so it could lead by example. He said driving the car around has also prompted people to ask questions about it.

“If you go to an electric vehicle you can reduce your carbon footprint and you save money,” he said. “It’s a win-win all around.”

Marconi anticipates many localities to make the switch to electric in the future as the technology improves.

“I think it’s inevitable,” he said. “There’s no question about it.”

kkoerting@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345; @kkoerting

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