Charging ahead


We’ve already established that the only thing keeping you from trading in your Subaru for a Schwinn is the lack of bike lanes. Now it turns out that all it will take to get you into a new electric vehicle is for the town to install a few public electric vehicle charging stations.

So, which is it? Bikes or electric vehicles? Has the Sierra Club weighed in yet?

A note on terminology. An electric vehicle, or “EV” if you want to sound like a cognoscente (and, trust me, you do), is one that operates 100 percent on electricity generated mainly by fossil fuels.

Wakefield is in the process of deciding where to place its first three public EV charging stations, which the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department is generously giving to the town. We learned at the August Town Council meeting that eager EV buyers have just been waiting for the charging infrastructure to be put in place. I can see the lines forming at the local Tesla dealership as we speak.

Nobody is certain exactly how many electric vehicles are garaged in Wakefield, but estimates range into the dozens. The best guess places the number of electric vehicles owned by Wakefield residents at about 30. Who knows? Maybe with these new charging stations, we can get that number up to 50. Dare to dream big, Wakefield!

In fairness, the charging stations are not just for Wakefield’s two dozen or so EV owners, who after all can charge their Fisher-Price cars at home. As we also learned at the last Town Council meeting, once word of our new charging stations gets out, exit ramps 39-42 will be jammed with EVs coming off Route 128 for a quick charge.

And while their battery-operated cars are charging, we’re told, owners will shop in our downtown stores, eat in our restaurants and perhaps join the locals for a cocktail or two on our benches.

Boosting the local economy and saving the planet. Win win!

The details are still being worked out, like where the “fast charge” station should be located. Also, how much to charge for a charge, because currently it looks like the town doesn’t plan on giving it away for free. That’s a good thing, because I’d be first in line looking for the free government gas pumps.

We’ve been told that providing bike lanes will mean more bike riders, and offering EV charging stations will result in more vehicles to plug into them. It seems like putting the cart before the horse, to use a cliché consistent with our return to old-school, carbon-free transportation options.

At the risk of sounding like a free-market capitalist, when did we replace the law of supply and demand with the hope that “If we build it, they will come?”

Maybe they’re right. Time will tell. In my case, about 12 years.

I bought my 2017 Mazda 3 two years ago. My Protégé lasted 14 years, so I figure they’ve got another dozen years to sell me an EV.

I just pray the planet lasts that long.

[This column originally appeared in the August 22, 2019 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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