WILMINGTON, MA — Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) General Manager Coleen O’Brien was recently in front of the Wilmington Board of Selectmen to discuss bringing two Electrical Vehicle chargers to Wilmington via grant funding.
O’Brien began by discussing RMLD’s commitment to building and being a part of a regional EV charging network to support non-carbon goals including gas vehicle transition goals by the state. O’Brien noted that RMLD offers up to $750 for certain residential network enabled charges and recently worked with Analog Devices in town to pilot EV charging stations on private property at commercial sites.
O’Brien explained that, back in March, RMLD received the town’s permission to pursue a grant application with the state to install an EV charger at both the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility and Town Hall. RMLD was, in fact, awarded the grant for those charging stations on June 4. After negative feedback from the Board of Selectmen over Yentile Farm — with its crunch for parking during games and it being closed during the winter — coupled with an investigation of Yentile’s parking lot, RMLD asked the town if they could switch the site of one of the EV chargers from Yentile to the Wilmington Memorial Library.
The cost of the EV charging stations would be offset by the grant, noted O’Brien. RMLD would cover any additional costs from its existing budget. The charging stations, which would not be free to use, but likely offered at a discounted rate, would be accessible through an EV network app.
RMLD has hired Voltrek Engineering to assist with a feasibility review of each location, including EV regulations and required spacing/hatching. The EV stations would have dual-charging heads, allowing for two vehicles to be charged at one time. Parking logistics would need to be finalized between RMLD and the Town. Both parking lots would lose three regular parking spaces to make way for the two EV station parking spaces with the necessary hatching. Some relining would be necessary as well.
RMLD was able to meet the state’s deadline of July 3 to accept the grant funding for the EV station at Town Hall. Meanwhile, RMLD rejected the grant funding for the EV station at Yentile Farm, and instead, requested an extension of 30 days to offer an alternative location at the Wilmington Memorial Library and conduct a further feasibility review of the space.
RMLD will soon provide final designs to Wilmington’s Department of Public Buildings Superintendent George Hooper. Hooper will also work with RMLD after this project to provide a list of potential EV locations for future installation. The Swain Green, a recommended site from Selectman Kevin Caira, will strongly be considered.
In response to a question from Selectman Gary DePalma, Hooper and O’Brien clarified that the town’s two train stations were not considered for EV chargers because the grant would only allow for them to be placed on town-owned land.
In response to a request from Selectman Kevin Caira, the Town and RMLD will ensure that all the EV charging stations have adequate lighting, including potentially installing a street light on the new poles.
“I encourage the town to be progressive on this,” added Selectman Gary DePalma. “If we can sit down with Coleen and George to locate other sites for these, it’s the wave of the future. I would be interested in finding out [about more grant opportunities],”
Town Manager Jeff Hull asked if some of the future EV charging stations could be installed on private property, including a location like Market Basket in town.
“We’re still looking at that. We will be trying to address private property areas and see if we can work with them,” responded O’Brien.
Selectmen unanimously approved O’Brien’s request to accept the state grant for the EV charger at Town Hall and to seek a 30-day extension on the other state grant with the intent to switch EV charging locations from Yentile Farm Recreational Facility to the Wilmington Memorial Library.
Later in the meeting, Selectmen approved the request of RMLD to use the Town Common parking lot on Sunday, August 15, 2021, from 9am to 2pm, to hold an Electric Vehicle Car Show in conjunction with that day’s Wilmington Farmers Market on the Swain Green.