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At RWU, Governor Celebrates Launch of Statewide Electric Vehicle Network

University unveils the first of nearly 50 electric vehicle charging stations to be installed across Rhode Island over the next three months
Photo by: Lauren Clines '14
Governor Chafee checks out a Tesla Model S electric vehicle owned by Providence attorney Don E. Wineberg, a member of the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Coordinating Board.

Bristol, R.I. – Rhode Island Governor Lincoln D. Chafee unveiled an open-to-the-public electric vehicle charging station at Roger Williams University today, the first in a network of up to 50 to be installed across the state over the next three months.

During his remarks to an audience of nearly 100 supporters of electric vehicles and other sustainability efforts, the Governor also announced that the State of Rhode Island will lead by example by transitioning the state’s fleet of vehicles to alternative fuel vehicles. Chafee directed Director of Administration Richard Licht to implement a process through which state agencies will use Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to pay for the differential cost between an alternative fuel vehicle and a comparably sized gas-powered car.

“Supporting electric vehicle transportation in Rhode Island will provide a boost to the state economy, saving money on gas and keeping dollars that would have been spent on imported oil here in Rhode Island,” Governor Chafee said. “We are developing a clean and efficient transportation infrastructure for the future, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.”

RWU President Donald J. Farish called the electric vehicle charging station a visible symbol of the University’s commitment to sustainability. Sharing the story of faculty member David Corbin, who owns a BMW Active E electric vehicle on site for the event, he also spoke about the need to create an infrastructure to support alternative-fuel vehicles.

“As signatories to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, our obligation is to minimize the carbon footprint that we create,” Farish said. “And one of the great contributors to that carbon footprint is commuting to campus by our faculty, staff and students, who burn gasoline as they go. We like to feel that at Roger Williams, we’re on the cutting edge of creating this network of charging stations, thanks to Governor Chafee, ChargePoint and National Grid. It’s a celebratory day.”

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative James Langevin shared thoughts on the Rhode Island Charging Ahead initiative in advance, and representatives from an array of organizations – including ChargePoint, National Grid, Project Get Ready Rhode Island and the Ocean State Clean Cities Coalition – offer remarks on site at Roger Williams.

“Electric vehicles help improve air quality for all Rhode Islanders by reducing tailpipe emissions,” Senator Whitehouse said. “I congratulate the State, ChargePoint, and National Grid on this important step, and for their efforts to position Rhode Island as a leader in the fast-growing clean energy industry.”

“Rhode Island has long been at the forefront of expanding our renewable portfolio, both onshore and off,” said Congressman Langevin. “This partnership to develop electric vehicle infrastructure throughout our state is a perfect example of what can happen when state, federal, and local governments work together with private companies. I look forward to seeing the benefits this state-wide venture brings to our communities in the years to come.”

“Under Governor Chafee’s leadership, the State will lead by example,” said Director of Administration Richard Licht. “We will require that new state vehicle purchases be electric vehicles or hybrids wherever possible. We are pleased to be able to leverage Federal ARRA State Energy Program dollars to purchase electric vehicles and hybrids and to develop the network of charging stations at convenient locations throughout Rhode Island – from coffee shops and supermarkets to state beaches and recreation areas.”

Director Licht noted that the greening the state fleet is underway. “We have already replaced 30 gas-powered state cars with low-emission hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, using Federal ARRA dollars to offset the higher upfront costs,” he explained. “Along with protecting the environment, the switch will save Rhode Island taxpayers’ money because fuel costs are substantially lower.”

Governor Chafee added that some of the public charging stations will be installed at the state beaches and recreation areas managed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, crediting the leadership of Director of Environmental Management Janet Coit. “Many of these DEM sites generate clean solar or wind energy,” noted Governor Chafee. “Using clean renewable energy to power electric vehicles is a great alternative to using imported gasoline.”

The State Office of Energy Resources awarded the $781,225 contract to site and install the charging stations to ChargePoint, the leading provider of networked public charging stations in the United States with over 12,200 charging points installed across the country. ChargePoint is working with National Grid, Rhode Island’s largest utility and a pioneer in electric vehicle charging station deployment.

ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano explained that the ChargePoint stations have state of the art features including the ability to locate, reserve and navigate to unoccupied charging stations with online tools and mobile applications. “Our charging units, each of which has two charging spots, provide all the features needed to make driving an electric vehicle easy and worry free,” said Romano.

“The collaboration between the State of Rhode Island, ChargePoint and National Grid is a great example of a public-private partnership that works for Rhode Island and for the environment,” said Edward White, vice president, customer and business strategy for National Grid. “Plug-in electric vehicles are more than just a new way to get around. They are a major part of a cleaner, more efficient transportation future. At National Grid, we are committed to making this new technology more viable and cost-effective for ourselves and our customers, and pleased to help make it happen in Rhode Island.”

“It takes a strong public-private partnership to create a clean and efficient transportation future,” said Marion Gold, commissioner of the Office of Energy Resources. “We look forward to assisting Governor Chafee with his vision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving taxpayers’ dollars, working closely with our business partners. In Rhode Island, we spend over $1 billion in the transportation sector annually, primarily for petroleum products. Transitioning away from fossil fuels with this dual approach of a statewide network and transitioning the state’s fleet will help the environment and it will keep more dollars in the Rhode Island economy.”