Fighting for a parking space may soon take on an entirely new meaning for electric vehicle owners.  A new program launched by Connecticut Light and Power will install a few dozen charging stations across Connecticut.

The company says 30 charging stations will be installed in the CL&P and Northeast Utilities territory that spans Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.  While some of the charging stations are on corporate campuses, a bulk of them will be publicly accessible and many free for drivers to use.  With only one or two chargers available at each location, however, charging opportunities will be limited for the early adopters.

CL&P will install the charging devices free of charge in exchange for the sponsoring site providing the utility with data and feedback as to how the chargers are being used.  Individual meters will be installed with each charger and the municipality or business will be responsible for the cost of electricity.  The stations use an industry standard plug that is common across all electric vehicles.

Industry analysts expect the electric grid to be able to handle the influx of electric vehicles charging since a majority will be plugged in at home in the evenings when demand is low.  With continued volatility in gas prices, however, consumer demand may lead to more plug-in stations at retailers and workplaces. 

“It’s all about understanding how EV recharging impacts the electric utility system under a variety of conditions,” said Watson Collins, electric vehicle project manager for Northeast Utilities in a press release.

Connecticut is a launch market for both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.  Production quantities are limited but vehicles are beginning to reach consumers throughout the state with more plug-ins on the way from other manufacturers. 

The Volt has an approximate 40 mile electric-only range, but has a gasoline generator that powers the vehicle’s electric motor after the battery is depleted.  It takes four hours to fully charge a Volt using the CL&P chargers, but even an hour or two of charging is enough to extend the electric only range.  Given most vehicles will be parked at a workplace for 4 hour increments or more, many consumers could avoid using gasoline altogether if their commute is within the battery range.  General Motors estimates a full 40 mile charge costs only about $1.50 in electricity.

The Leaf has no gasoline backup but goes about double the range of the Volt on electricity, approximately 80-100 miles per charge based on conditions.  CL&P estimates the car will take approximately 7 hours to fully charge.

The company plans to use the data during the pilot program to develop a long range EV infrastructure plan.