Vehicle charging stations get a boost under Vermont bill signed by Scott

Published: 6/18/2019 10:36:20 PM

BETHEL — Vermonters driving electric vehicles won’t have to worry as much about where they’ll get their next charge, under legislation signed by Gov. Phil Scott.

In describing the new transportation bill, HB 529, at a ceremony Friday at the site of the Route 12 bridge, Scott said the state wants to grow the number of electric vehicles but also to make sure there are enough charging stations.

“I’m very excited about the electric vehicle program and where this takes us in the future,” the governor said.

The measure authorizes the Agency of Transportation to spend $2 million on the electric vehicle incentive and emissions repair programs in fiscal year 2020. Some funds received from the Volkswagen settlement over its misleading “clean diesel” ads also will be used for infrastructure improvements.

On the electric cars initiative, Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said the goal is to build a fast-charging station within 30 miles of every Vermonter within three years. He said another 20 to 25 stations could be finished within the next year, adding that the agency will work with partners such as Green Mountain Power to accomplish the goal.

Currently, there are about 200 charging stations in Vermont, Flynn said, but not all of them are fast-charging stations, which can provide roughly an 80% charge in half an hour. The agency has been focusing on making charging infrastructure along highway corridors available to Vermonters and visitors to make sure they can refuel.

While the program is a big leap for Vermont, Rep. Rebecca White, D-Hartford, who joined the ceremony, said it’s not enough.

“I applaud and commend the governor for his leadership on the $1.5 million going toward electric vehicle incentives,” she said. “To reach our statewide energy goal of 90,000 electric vehicles on the road added by 2025, this bill sets a foundation, but we can do more in the future.”

The emissions repair program exempts cars older than 16 years from exhaust inspection. Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the bill is aimed at helping low-income Vermonters.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said the exemptions would result in a 23% loss of air pollution reductions compared with the current guidelines. But Tom Moye, chief of the mobile sources section, said Vermont will still be able to meet its federal obligations.

The overall budget includes $93 million for public transit, aviation, bike-ped, Park & Ride and rail, according to a fact sheet.

Additionally, the transportation agency will invest $373 million in highway infrastructure, including:

■ Nearly $100 million in bridge investments.

■ More than $100 million for paving.

■ Nearly $50 million in roadway projects, including the Champlain Parkway in Burlington, Main Street in Waterbury, the Crescent Connector in Essex Junction, and continuation of projects on Route 7 in Brandon and Pittsford.

■ $20 million in traffic and safety investments, including a new roundabout in Burlington.

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