Waitsfield, Vermont, hosts new 30-minute charger
Some years ago, Volkswagen (VW) faced a dilemma. It could get its diesel engines to pass emissions tests, but only with a noticeable reduction in power. VW’s leadership thought this would drive away customers. The company’s solution was to build into the car’s software a system that could detect whether the car was being tested for emissions. When it was, the emissions controls operated so the car could pass the test. Otherwise, the controls were bypassed, and the car was acceptably peppy. This meant that the car produced up to forty times as much pollution as it should have, nearly all the time.
VW’s scheme was discovered, and the attorneys general of a number of states, including Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, brought charges of fraud. The prosecution was successful in 2017. VW pleaded guilty and agreed to pay settlement money for the damage it had done.
This is an important issue. A study by the American Lung Association in California found that air pollution from all transportation cost Vermont $313 million per year in health costs. VW’s fraud was a part of that cost we did not need (https://bit.ly/ALA-study).
Vermont received $6.5 million in the settlement, and leaders in the legislature decided to use the money in ways that would reduce pollution from transportation in the state. Money from the award was used for the Vermont Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Grant Program to install charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) at eighty sites.
Recently, a super-fast charger was installed by SunCommon at the Mad River Taste Place in Waitsfield. A casual observer might ask why a small town like Waitsfield would be chosen as a charging site. After all, it would probably not be included in a list of transportation hubs. The region, however, is very popular with tourists. The area is home to two important ski resorts, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush Resort. The river itself also has some areas popular for swimming.
Mad River Taste Place is a popular location for tourists to pick up products of local Makers and Growers. Its co-president, James Moore, said, “SunCommon is building Vermont’s clean energy future with many hundreds of solar arrays, storage batteries and electric vehicle charging stations. We’re thrilled to have built this latest one, the state’s fastest charging station yet, to delight local residents and visitors to the Mad River Valley alike.” (We recommend checking the website, www.madrivertaste.com, to see about hours and what is available during the Covid-19 pandemic.)
The charger in Waitsfield has a capacity of 62.5 kilowatts, which is sufficient power to charge many EVs in half an hour. SunCommon, which installed it, is the largest provider of residential, community, and commercial solar systems in Vermont. The power for the EV charging station is provided from one of SunCommon’s community solar arrays in Vermont, and the company’s 8,000 Vermont customers will be able to charge their cars at a discount.