The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is providing free access to electric vehicle chargers at two of its Park & Ride commuter lots as part of a pilot program to encourage and support the use of electric vehicles on Rhode Island roadways. The program is being run in conjunction with the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) and National Grid.
The chargers will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will be free until the end of this year. RIDOT and OER will evaluate usage patterns throughout the pilot to help make decisions on deploying more charging stations.
A common barrier to adoption of this technology is convenient access to charging stations. RIDOT and its partners selected two Park & Ride lots that are located immediately off I-95 for this pilot program – the Park & Ride on Route 117 (Centerville Road) at Exit 10 in Warwick, and the Park & Ride on Route 3 (Main Street) at Exit 1 in Hopkinton.
“Electric cars are becoming more common on our streets, and the commuter parking lots we own are a perfect test bench for us to evaluate the demand for this service,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “There are a number of barriers to electric car adoption, among them concerns about range and access to fast, convenient charging stations. These stations help alleviate those concerns.”
The charging stations will feature 240-volt Level II and direct current fast charging (DCFC) options. The Level II chargers can provide 25 miles of range per hour of charging while the DCFC chargers will provide approximately 250 miles of range in an hour of charging. Charging times can vary slightly based on vehicle model. Each Park & Ride lot can accommodate up to six cars charging on the Level II chargers and two cars using the DCFC fast chargers.
“Transportation is Rhode Island’s costliest and most carbon-intense energy sector, accounting for 40 percent of statewide energy expenditures and 36 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions,” said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci. “This sector remains heavily dependent on petroleum-based fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, with major implications for long-term environmental sustainability and public health. The adoption of electric vehicles and deployment of charging infrastructure is vital if we are to mitigate the harmful emissions that pollute our communities and contribute to global climate change.”
“Rhode Islanders all have a deep, shared commitment to the health of our communities and our environment,” said Terry Sobolewski, President, RI National Grid. “National Grid is proud to support RIDOT’s pilot program which is providing free access to EV chargers at two of its Park & Ride commuter lots. As we focus on ways to reduce carbon emissions, encouraging and supporting the use of electric vehicles on our roads is a way National Grid can help Rhode Island move closer to its greenhouse goals.”
Both Park & Ride lots are serviced by RIPTA, allowing electric car users to charge their vehicles while using transit service for work or school. Transit users should not use the DCFC fast chargers for extended periods, as these are more suited for use by travelers seeking a brief stop to recharge their vehicles while on long trips.
RIDOT and OER supported the cost of purchasing the charging equipment (approximately $300,000), the latter through its Electrify RI program, supported by the state’s settlement with Volkswagen. National Grid provided additional funding to cover installation costs.
The use of a free ChargePoint account is recommended for quick access to the system but not required. Many electric car owners already use this pay-per-use charging service.