BECKET — Becket might not have any gas stations, but the small town now boasts its own set of charging stations at Town Hall.
The charging stations, funded through an Eversource program, enable those driving electric vehicles to fuel up. The two stations have been active since October, according to Town Administrator William Caldwell, yet the utility company will roll them out formally during an event next week.
Caldwell said that because Becket is an environmental justice community, Eversource covered the cost entirely. For customers outside that category, the company pays for engineering and site work, and the customer would pay for the equipment, which typically costs between $4,000 and $7,000.
"Hopefully other towns can follow our example and get their own," Caldwell said.
The town is on the hook for annual fees for the two stations, totaling $1,000 a year, he said.
Michael Lavery, who serves on the Becket Select Board, said he bought an electric vehicle last spring and it got him thinking about the need for more charging stations in the Berkshires. Toward that end, he began searching for grants that the town could apply for. Eversource had a program that fit the bill, he said.
"It was a pretty good win on our part," he said.
Lavery said his electric vehicle takes about 10 hours to charge, and that will get him about 240 miles worth of driving.
"This is another way to show that we're looking forward, and trying to get off of fossil fuels," he said.
State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has a bill in progress that would install charging stations at every exit along the Massachusetts Turnpike. The state Senate approved the bill, he said, and now it goes to the House of Representatives for further vetting.
Some 40 percent of the state's carbon emissions comes from the transportation sector, he said, and there are 5 million cars on the state's roads.
"It's one of the most difficult areas to attack when it comes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels," he said. "Because of individual choices. It's hard for the state to mandate that."
By building out the infrastructure to support those buying electric vehicles, Hinds said he hopes the state can encourage more people to make the shift.
"We'll try to make sure that the state does its part," he said. "We need to see this infrastructure develop across the commonwealth."
James Cater, program lead for the Eversource program that funded the project, said the company set aside $45 million for developing charging stations like the new one in Becket.
The program launched in 2018, he said, and has so far launched 125 sites, including one at the Berkshire Medical Center garage in Pittsfield. The work compliments the state's efforts to reduce its reliance on carbon fuels, he said.
"Having [electric vehicle] infrastructure in the ground when customers consider purchasing an electric vehicle is a necessary thing," he said.
Cater said Eversource continues to install stations throughout the state.
"We like to say that we're doing this from Pittsfield to Provincetown," he said. "Western Massachusetts is an important piece."
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.