Tesla and Electrify America Present New Plan for Charging Station

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A rendering of the proposed charging station in Montauk compared to what the parking lot looks like today.

Less than a year after proposing a group of supercharger stations — compatible with only its own electric vehicles — in the town-owned Kirk Park Beach parking lot in Montauk, the Tesla company returned to the East Hampton Town Board this week with a new plan that includes charging stations compatible with other vehicles in a parking lot off South Euclid Avenue.

On Tuesday, Edwin Xiao, a senior project developer with Tesla — the company made famous popularizing its electric car and other renewable energy technologies — presented the East Hampton Town Board with plans for a fast-charging, electric vehicle station that would include eight Tesla superchargers and an additional four Electrify America chargers, compatible with other kinds of electric vehicles.

The companies have been working with Kim Shaw, an environmental protection director with the town’s Natural Resources Department, to develop the plan for East Hampton, one of a handful of public-private partnerships Tesla has been developing throughout the state. Tesla and Electrify America will pay for the chargers and the installation. According to Mr. Xiao, , it would cost $600,000 for the town to buy roughly the same chargers before installation and connecting to the power grid.

Electrify America is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen company, but according to Rick Gershwin, a regional project manager for Electrify America, the goal of that subsidiary is not to promote Volkswagen charging stations but to proliferate stations across the country as the demand for electric cars surges and greater infrastructure is necessary to serve drivers. The company is investing $2 billion over 10 years into developing this infrastructure, with the goal of having 452 Electrify America stations online by the end of June.

“I think this is a much better location than Kirk,” said Councilman David Lys, although Lys questioned the lighting of the stations, raising concerns about nearby homeowners.

Mr. Gershwin said a certain amount of lighting was necessary for drivers pulling into the station and engaging in charging at the site but said it would be “low level light” and “dispersed.” The area would also be screened with red cedar trees and American holly.

Mr. Lys noted that there are a number of different parking restrictions in the code and suggested an hour might prove a sweet spot where electric vehicles could move in and out of the lot in relatively short order, while drivers would still have ample time to shop in downtown Montauk.

“I think an hour is more than sufficient,” said Mr. Xiao. “I think one of the concerns was people would stay there too long and go to the beach.”

While Mr. Lys and Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc appeared supportive of the plan, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said she had concerns. “I think those charging stations look very urban to me and not in keeping with the character of the community,” she said. “And I think it is going to concern people who live in the neighborhood. Green glowing light? It doesn’t do well.”

“There is no ‘Ye Old Charging Station’ as far as I know,” joked Mr. Van Scoyoc.

“You are putting all the Tesla stations in the community in the furthest east parking lot, so anyone who owns a Tesla in Wainscott, in Springs, in Amagansett, you are going to be putting traffic down Montauk Highway to get to that Tesla station,” said Ms. Overby. “I still don’t understand why you didn’t consider other parking lots and why you did not consider other private parking lots.”

Mr. Xiao said the company looked at 20 different lots and given the town’s earlier concerns about the Kirk Park Beach parking lot, felt the South Euclid lot was the best fit. He added that the company has also installed more than 20 Level 2 chargers — a charger that can achieve a full charge in three to eight hours — in private lots as well, including places like LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, now home to four Level 2 chargers for Tesla drivers. The company installed a supercharger station capable of charging up to eight vehicles between 30 to 40 minutes, in the parking lot at Café Crust on County Road 39 in Southampton in 2016.

“I know that was what we pressed you hard on last time — the fast chargers and universal chargers,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. “I am pleased to see you come back with a proposal that offers more value to a broader spectrum of the general public.”

Several students from the East Hampton High School Environmental Awareness Club came out in support of the project at the start of the work session.

“Implementing electric chargers such as the ones proposed for this parking lot can provide both economic and environmental incentive to help protect Montauk’s environment,” said student Aubrey Peterson.

“Electric vehicles can also reduce noise pollution and improve air quality in the vicinity,” he added.

Junior Emma Silvera said the stations will be in “high demand.” “Also, electric charging stations will enable the Town of East Hampton to help achieve its goal of using renewable energy resources by 2030, which is only 11 years away.”

 

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