When electric vehicles are topped up at the municipal parking lot, they can soon receive more than one type of fee. Since the very first town-owned vehicle charging points were launched in December 2019, drivers have been able to charge their vehicles for free, with the maintenance costs and power being covered by taxpayers. Town leaders are now proposing a $1 per kilowatt-hour usage fee, even though this is far higher than the cost of electricity at home or at the commercial charging points.

Susan Grossberg, who is an Agawam resident, wrote to the City Council last month, claiming that plugging in at home ends up costing her 21 cents for every kilowatt-hour, albeit at a slower charging time. With faster-charging technology, Cumberland Farms situated in town costs only 35 cents for every kilowatt-hour, she said. The charging station situated in West Springfield, which is owned by the town, is open.

“Charging $1 for every hour to offset the town’s costs is equivalent to paying $8 for every gallon for gas,” Grossberg stated. “But nobody in their right state of mind will pay this when they can bill much more quickly and for much less down the road.”

Agawam has seven charging points for electric vehicles. In 2019 December, chargers were turned on in parking areas at the Borgatti Park, the town library, as well as the Corey Street section of the School Street Park. On September, 4 more chargers were installed in parking areas at the high school, Senior Center, Shea Field’s dog park, as well as the School Street portion of the School Street Park. Electric vehicle drivers will simply pull up, park, and plug in. They are not needed to live in Agawam.

The proposed $1 bill, according to Marc Strange, the town’s planning as well as economic development officer, covers an energy supply rate of 60 cents for every kilowatt-hour. The bulk of the fee will be used to cover the town’s annual Chargepoint network subscription. According to Strange, the network charge is a flat annual expense of $2,686, or 40 cents for every kilowatt-hour centered on use in the year 2020.

Strange noted out that the town’s electrical supply prices are higher than what residential customers are paying. “Eversource charges a slightly higher demand fee for using the facilities because usage [of charging points] is intermittent and unpredictable,” Strange explained. “The demand cost is much smaller as consumers plug their cars into their residential chargers as there is a constant draw of energy from their home’s meter.”

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