Downtown Buzzards Bay might soon be getting its own electric vehicle charging station. Efforts are underway to have a new charging station installed at the National Marine Life Center on Main Street.
The subject was brought to the attention of the Bourne Board of Selectmen during its meeting Wednesday last week, November 4. The request to install a charging station at the NMLC was on the agenda because the board’s approval was necessary, since the marine life center is located on town property.
The charging station would be installed by Horizon Solutions, a company based in upstate New York. Energy services business operations manager Nicole Voudren represented the company and said Horizon Solutions was approached by NMLC about installing the power station.
The type of station being considered would hold two charging ports. It would be accessible for the physically disabled, Ms. Voudren said, and available to anyone in the public. Public availability and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, she said, are requirements of a grant the project has applied for through the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.
Ms. Voudren said she was only seeking permission to sign a pre-assessment application with Eversource so that the company could conduct a study that would ensure there is sufficient power for the charging station.
“There’s no commitment with this application,” she said. “It just allows Eversource to conduct a pre-assessment.”
Selectman James L. Potter said the charging station was a good idea but expressed concerns about it being located in Buzzards Bay, which is in a flood zone. Mr. Potter asked about the safety measures Horizon Solutions would put in place should the charging station suddenly wind up underwater.
Ms. Voudren said one solution might be to elevate the charging station’s pedestal “to bring it up from flush with the ground.” She added that Horizon Solutions has installed charging stations in flood zones elsewhere after securing the proper permitting from authorities having jurisdiction.
Ms. Voudren said she would bring Mr. Potter’s question to the attention of the company’s civil engineer and provide a more specific answer at a later date. She added that the charging station would be outfitted in such a way that additional ports can be added in the future “if anyone wants to expand charging capabilities.”
Selectman George G. Slade asked if NMLC would be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the charging station. Ms. Voudren said that would be the case. Mr. Potter also questioned whether there would be a time limitation placed on the charging station that will prevent someone from using it at a given time of day.
He noted there are now apps for smartphones that locate charging stations for electric vehicle owners. Complaints could reach the selectmen, he said, if there is a padlock limiting use of the station.
Timothy Hines, a member of the NMLC’s board of advisors, told selectmen the intention is not to padlock the charging station and to make it available “first come, first served.”
“We wanted to make it open to anyone who wanted to use it,” he said. “It might be full because people are using it, but it won’t be because there’s a lock or anything like that. It’s going to be totally open to the public.”
Selectman Peter J. Meier recalled issues the town had with Tesla when the company installed a super-charger station in Sagamore. Tesla refused a request by electrical inspector Edward Eacobacci for a key, giving him access to the power unit in the event of an emergency.
The solution offered by Tesla, Mr. Meier said, was for the fire department to use bolt cutters to cut the lock on the unit. Ms. Voudren said the powering unit installed by Horizon Solutions will have a disconnect mechanism readily available to anyone.
A motion was made to approve installation of the charging station on town property and to have Mr. Schiavi sign the pre-assessment on behalf of the town. The installation would also be subject to the project meeting all standards of codes and safety explored by town staff.
The board unanimously approved the motion.