A year and a half ago Jerry Davis walked into a Chevrolet dealership-"with a good deal of skepticism," he admitted-to take a look at Chevy's newest car, the Volt. He took it for a test drive "and was incredibly surprised that it was so much fun to drive." He bought one of the electric cars. So did his brother.
Davis, of Davis Realty, LLC, saw more than a fun drive. He saw the future, and an opportunity for Madison. Electric vehicle charging stations are few, although the number is increasing. Why not bring one to Madison? Davis had the perfect location-in the parking lot behind the movie theater. The lot is used for public parking and ownership is shared by the town and Davis Realty.
"With both my brother and I owning Volts, we thought the charging station would be a great thing for the community," Davis said. "It would bring people into the center of town to charge up and to spend time here."
Visitors stroll main streets, shop, look for entertainment, and enjoy restaurants, Davis knew. He told the Planning & Zoning Commission last month that New Canaan installed a charging station in the center of town. Such stations have become known as "destination charges" because the car owners who use them spend several hours in a downtown center.
Davis began researching charging stations and local and state regulations. He talked with the first selectman, the town planner, and the town engineer.
"By happy coincidence," he said, at about the same time, the state announced its incentive program aimed at growing the number of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations. Davis and the town applied for and received a $5,000 grant. The town's Energy Committee said last month that it will probably add another $5,000 to the effort.
The state grant requires that the station construction be underway by Jan. 1, 2014. Davis said the station has received all the required approvals from local land use boards and CL&P is now working with Lemley Electric to provide the necessary power.
"This will be located exactly behind the movie theater," Davis said. "It will be the two spaces just west of the walkway between the movie theater and the post office."
In his presentation to the Planning & Zoning Commission, Town Engineer Mike Ott said the site selected for the charging station would be next to the handicapped-accessible parking space on the corner near the post office. The next two parking spaces would be designated as parking for the charging station only. Plans are to install a dual port charging station that has two extension cords in it, so two cars can charge on it at any one time. There will be five feet of walking space near the charging station, and the area is well lit, Ott said. Signs will be placed near the highway to direct people to the charging station.
The state grant requires the town install, maintain, and operate the equipment for a minimum of three years. The electricity bill will be a part of the town's electrical bill, Davis said. Costs for charging electrical stations range from $75 to $100 per month.