WA electric vehicle chargers benefit community members with electric cars


Eddie Lowney

Electric vehicle chargers at Westford Academy faculty parking lot.

Eddie Lowney, Staff Writer

For the past year, four electric vehicle chargers installed at Westford Academy have provided the school and the broader Westford community with the opportunity to charge their electric cars. The chargers are available for use by students with parking passes, faculty, and others who are attending an event in the building during school hours. Outside of school hours, the chargers are completely open to the public.

The four dual-head chargers, located directly in front of the main entrance to the school in the faculty parking lot, can each charge two vehicles at a time, making for a total capacity of eight vehicles charging simultaneously. They are level II, 240 volt chargers that use J-1772 charging ports, which are compatible with new electric vehicles sold in North America. Depending on the car, these chargers provide roughly 20 miles of range per hour of charging.

The installation of these chargers was part of an initiative by the town which saw chargers installed at three locations around Westford: Town Hall, Abbott Elementary School, and Westford Academy. This initiative aims to bolster the town’s electric vehicle infrastructure, ushering the town towards its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

While the chargers have seen modest usage since their installation, they are already benefiting the community.

“It’s been really helpful to have the chargers here,” Westford Academy English teacher Ms. Shaw said. “I went on a hike to Mount Monadnock and it was nice to be able to be fully charged so I could go up Mount Monadnock and come home and not have to worry about anything.”

In addition to convenience, the chargers offer a rate of 25 cents per kilowatt hour, which for the Chevrolet Bolt, for example, provides approximately 17 miles of range per dollar.

“[The chargers] are a really good deal. They’re certainly cheaper than other places I’ve been to,” said Shaw.

Aside from providing students and teachers who own electric vehicles with a convenient place to charge, the installation aids the town’s push towards carbon neutrality.

“Our hope is that more employees of the town and school departments begin to transition from internal combustion engines to EVs,” Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman said.

The presence of the chargers at Westford Academy, and the other eight around town, also may make the prospect of owning an electric vehicle seem more feasible to the broader community. Seeing more of the infrastructure necessary to operate electric vehicles helps to lessen fears of potential “range anxiety.” 

While the relatively light usage of the chargers in the past year can make the installation seem excessive, the chargers are meant to help usher in, and later accommodate, future demand. 

“Usage has been minimal so far, but we hope that will change as people continue to purchase EVs,” Heideman said.