The City of Hamilton installed a dual port Level 2 electrical vehicle charging station in June and has had 14 recorded charges since the system became operational.
Hamilton City Planner Matthew Rohrbach said the project started with a request and a grant.
“We were approached by the Bitterroot Climate Action Group and they informed us about a DEQ (Montana Department of Environment Quality) grant available,” Rohrbach said. “We looked at it as a really good opportunity. I think the future of vehicles is going electric and limiting factors include having a charging station infrastructure.”
The electric vehicle charging station at City Hall was made possible through a grant from the DEQ, with matching funds from the City of Hamilton and Bitterroot Climate Action Group.
The charging station, located on the north side of City Hall in the city’s parking lot, is the only place to charge between Missoula and Salmon, Idaho. Town Pump on U.S. Highway 93, north Hamilton, has plans to install one in the future.
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Rohrbach said the DEQ had identified main corridors as priorities and those include U.S. Highway 93 from Eureka to Sula, Highways 90, 15 and 2.
“That was the first round (of grant applications) and we felt we had a good chance to get the grant funding,” he said. “The DEQ had another grant for Level 3 faster chargers and Town Pump will be getting one of those.”
Since the charger was installed in Hamilton, Rohrbach has received calls from out-of-state travelers planning their trips and including Hamilton on their route due to the charger.
“Which was precisely why we wanted one here and in this location,” he said. “It takes a little while to charge but they can go downtown, take in a meal and shop in local businesses. We’ll add some maps to show people what’s around, like River Park. We’re giving electric vehicle drivers a reason to come to Hamilton.”
Starting a fill-up with no charge may take six to eight hours on a Level 2 charger, but just to “top-it-off” takes less time.
One key to success is spreading the word that the charging station is here. The Hamilton charging station was listed on a website called Plug Share in July. The website shows the location and strength of every charging station across the country.
The Hamilton Electrical Vehicle charging station fee is $2.50 per hour which covers the operational costs. Fees can be paid by downloading the EvGateway app which accepts credit cards and PayPal.
Installing the charging station that takes two parking places, changing the parking lot traffic flow pattern so drivers could enter from Second Street, resurfacing and restriping the asphalt, and adding three parking spaces have resulted in one additional space to park.
“There is no net loss in parking for non-electric vehicles,” Rohrbach said. “I know that was a concern with the downtown parking problem.”
Upcoming projects for the Hamilton City Planner’s Office include a Wayfinding Plan, a remodel of east Marcus Street and North Hamilton Highway 93 and zoning.
“We have a contract, (wayfinding) signs are being made and hopefully will be installed by the end of summer,” Rohrbach said.
Changing the street configuration where Marcus Street meets Highway 93 will take more work.
“It is a big project, there are a lot of utilities there, it is an MDT (Montana Department of Transportation) facility,” Rohrbach said. “We’re always applying for grants on that, we’ll keep trying. Just because we’re working on the charging station project doesn’t mean we’re not working on other things. We’re working closely with MDT.”
He said zoning would also be taken slowly and will include many public listening meetings.