Senators want Mass. Pike EV chargers fixed

Chris Lisinski | State House News Service | June 7, 2022

BOSTON (SHNS) – Frustrated by a pair of Massachusetts Turnpike electric vehicle charger stations that have been inoperable for more than a year, a pair of senators pressed Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler to fix the problem by next month and make clear how the administration will expand EV infrastructure.

Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem and Sen. Michael Barrett, who co-chairs the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, wrote to Tesler on Monday voicing “disappointment” that vehicle charging stations at I-90 rest stops have been broken for a year-plus.

“The continued inoperability of these chargers hampers the Commonwealth’s ability to reach its EV goals, not only because it makes it more difficult for EV drivers to travel across the Commonwealth, but also because it feeds into an inaccurate yet prevalent narrative that EVs are not reliable for long-distance travel,”

Creem, a Newton Democrat, and Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, wrote. “Indeed, the psychological impact of these broken chargers on residents whom we would like to become EV drivers may be even more detrimental than their practical impact on residents who already own EVs.” Creem’s office told the News Service she noticed the problem while traveling recently and, after looking into the issue, determined that the charging stations at the eastbound Natick rest stop and the westbound Charlton rest stop are not functional.

That takes two of the turnpike’s six charging stations out of the mix and leaves motorists driving electric vehicles with no options to recharge on I-90 across large stretches of the state. The lawmakers asked Tesler’s secretariat to bring broken chargers back to operation by July 1 “ahead of the busiest periods of summer travel” and requested additional information about the location and status of each Mass. Pike EV charger, how MassDOT maintains that infrastructure, and plans to install additional chargers.

A bill the Senate approved in April would pump $250 million into clean energy expansion, electric vehicle purchase incentives and EV charging infrastructure, though it remains unclear which provisions will survive negotiations with the House.

A MassDOT spokesperson did not respond directly to the Creem and Barrett letter on Tuesday but noted that a department official planned to discuss broader efforts to expand electric vehicle charging at an 11:30 a.m. event with AAA Northeast.

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