Electric Vehicles

MassEVolves Spotlight: Braintree Electric Light Company (BELD)

BELDThe Braintree Electric Light Department’s innovative “Braintree Drives Electric” program has been generating awareness and promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) to Braintree residents since 2016.

The program provides Braintree residents with discounts based on their charging habits and for the installation of charging equipment at their home. 

“We want to show residents the many benefits of owning or leasing an EV, including reduction to environmental impacts, affordability, and efficiency,” says Ken Stone, Energy Services and Accounting Manager. 

After partnering with Sagewell and Energy New England to help promote the program, BELD currently has about 80 residents enrolled with approximately 100 EVs in the town of Braintree. 

As part of the program, BELD has hosted virtual EVents, including a Q&A and a local EV specialist roundtable. Sagewell identifies new Braintree EV owners and contacts them to inform them about the Braintree Drives Electric program and uses smart charging program data to analyze residents’ charging habits. Energy New England manages the Braintree Drives Electric website, processes all customer rebates, and provides outreach to customers and local car dealerships. 

BELD currently owns and operates one Chevrolet Volt, two Volkswagen e-Golfs, and two hybrid bucket trucks, with a third hybrid bucket truck ordered and expected to arrive in 2021. BELD also owns and operates two dual head charging stations, which are free of charge for all electric vehicle users.t

To learn more about BELD, visit beld.net. To download the complete MassEVolves BELD PDF case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at massevolves.org.

Navigating Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers: Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

All about EV chargers

All about EV chargersPerhaps you have been looking at electric vehicles (EVs) for your home or business and you have concluded that they are a terrific idea: better performance than traditional petroleum-powered vehicles, lower fuel and maintenance costs, zero emissions – you are sold. 

But what about EV chargers? 

Navigating the EV charging landscape and the available options may seem a little daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. As you begin your research, you will encounter “Level 1,” “Level 2,” and “Level 3” chargers. Don’t let the terminology throw you. Think of them as slow, medium, and fast. And that slow doesn’t necessarily mean bad, especially if you have  longer times to charge at work, at home, or both. 

All EV models either use the same standard plugs for normal-speed charging (spelled out as Level 1 and Level 2 Charging below), come with a suitable adapter to handle variations, or can access other chargers using adapter accessories. 

Level 1 chargers provide energy equivalent to a standard 120 volt (V) three-prong AC outlet and supply an average power output of 1.3 kW to 2.4 kW, which is roughly equivalent to adding 3-5 miles of range to your battery per hour of charging. Typically, if you opt to use a Level 1 charge cord with a standard outlet, it will not require special electrical work, although before plugging an EV into any outlet you should check to make sure that you are using a dedicated circuit that is not supplying other appliances such as refrigerators or lights. We also believe it is always a good idea to have qualified professionals look at your electrical system to ensure that it can provide a safe and reliable charging option. 

Charge cords that can handle Level 1 and greater charges are typically included with the purchase of an EV. In instances where an appropriate outside plug option is available for a driver, Level 1 charging (110–120 V) is particularly suitable for home use. Most EV drivers overwhelmingly prefer to charge at home when they can – for those with that option, 80% or more of charging happens at home. Drivers can often receive discounts from their utility by charging at night, during off-peak hours. While Level 1 charge stations are available to purchase and can be installed in business or home locations, for planning purposes it is likely that they will support no more than one vehicle per day due to their relatively slow charging speed. 

Level 2 chargers can be installed at homes and are also the most widely used charger for public settings. On average, Level 2 charging adds roughly 25 miles of range per hour. They are popular in areas like public garages, hotels, malls, restaurant parking lots, and business parking settings. Level 2 chargers require a 240V electrical connection and an electrical circuit has at least 25% greater amperage than the charger’s output. The higher the output, the faster your charging time. Flexible chargers enable you to adjust the amperage to fit the limitations of your electrical system.

Many different commercial charge station options are available, and an increasing number of residential EV drivers are installing Level 2 chargers at home to take advantage of charging times that are many times faster than Level 1 chargers. For homes with more than one EV in the driveway, Level 2 chargers can be an especially sound investment, particularly when federal tax credits are taken into consideration. The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit allows individuals and businesses to write off 30% of equipment and installation costs: up to $1,000 for residents and $30,000 for commercial enterprises. 

Given their higher charging rates, Level 2 chargers in work settings can be used to support more than one vehicle per day, although employees and employers may have to establish workplace policies for allocating charging resources to ensure that access is available to EV drivers.  

Level 3 chargers offer the fastest charging rates and, because of their special equipment requirements, typically entail a significant upfront investment. Also called Direct Current Fast Chargers (DC Fast Chargers), these stations can charge an EV battery to 80% of capacity in as little as twenty minutes. Level 3 chargers require a 480-volt connection and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to install, so they are not designed for home use. They are available at rest stops for long highway trips, as well as some shopping centers, restaurants and other public locations around town. Different EV brands use different proprietary standards for Level 3 charging, and your EV must be equipped to handle a fast charge. For many business needs, Level 3 chargers can be cost prohibitive, although they may make sense for heavy commercial and/or industrial use with fleet vehicles and potentially locales with a large number of EVs. 

So Which Chargers Should I install?  

Level 2 chargers hit the sweet spot for most businesses, which can take advantage of federal and (when available) state tax credits, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in purchase and installation costs. Range demands make Level 2 charging preferable to Level 1 charging for the needs of organizations with more than just a few EV drivers, and are a worthy upfront investment.

For businesses, an incremental approach in rolling out EV charging capabilities may be the most practical strategy. Survey your team to understand what their needs might be. Begin with one or two dual charging stations and gauge reaction. EVs have a way of promoting themselves, and as your EV program gains traction, the case for expanding your charging capabilities will end up selling itself. A common refrain we always hear in the EV ecosystem is this: “Build it and they will come.”

Tim Allik is Communications Manager for Recharge America 


GM Aspires to Go All-Electric by 2035: What It Means for EV Infrastructure

GM’s recent announcement aiming to offer an all-electric lineup of light-duty vehicles by 2035 is big news. GM is one the top car manufacturers in the world, and other manufacturers are likely to follow suit. The company is allocating $27 billion to support the pivot to electric vehicles. In light of President Biden’s plans to make the federal fleet all-electric by 2035, it suggests that massive EV adoption is just around the corner, not around the block. This is exciting, yes, but also puts some urgent priorities into the spotlight. 

Over the next decade, as we envision EVs becoming increasingly common across our neighborhoods, cities and states some key questions come to mind: Where are the EV chargers? Who doesn’t have access yet to EV chargers yet, and where do they live?  What about our rural

GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

communities, where residents must drive further for everyday needs like groceries?  What about our disadvantaged communities, which often have the most to gain from reducing vehicle emissions given that they often live closest to the most dangerous transportation pollution? 

In recent memory, we can recall that the haphazard rollout of the Internet spurred the Digital Divide, where only certain communities had high speed access. With adequate foresight, the EV rollout offers us an opportunity to get it right this time. 

Planning is a critical component of any EV initiative within a business, community, state or region. Whether the objective is a Level 2 charge installation in a business parking lot or a corridor-wide buildout of fast chargers across a state, a few key questions must be addressed. Where is the optimal location? What fees will apply, if any? Will charge stations be accessible to the general public? Multiply questions like these on a national scale and the complexity could quickly threaten to overwhelm steady progress without careful, coordinated planning. Decisions now will have consequences for years to come.

Increasingly, the auto industry is recognizing that the future for transportation is electric, and we can expect other manufacturers to follow GM with strong EV announcements. The Biden Administration is certainly providing leadership, with its pledges to support electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. The progress is welcome given that EVs are terrific for local economies, and everyone stands to benefit from a rapid EV rollout no matter where they live. Getting the coordination right from the  federal level all the way to local businesses and organizations — with  state and local government entities working alongside in helping plan the transition to electric vehicles — will maximize those benefits for the most people.

Kirk Brown is President and CEO of Recharge America

Electric Vehicles Save Money? Yes – and Consumer Reports Details How Much

Consumer Reports EV Study / Recharge America

Consumer Reports EV Study / Recharge AmericaYou may have read that electric vehicles (EVs) cost more to purchase, but that the cars can actually save you money over time. That assessment often comes from comparing what can be higher purchase costs for an EV to the fuel costs they later save (EVs are much more efficient than gasoline cars). How should you factor that into a purchase decision? More precisely, how can you weigh future savings against purchase costs, particularly if there are any other cost factors between EVs and traditional cars, like vehicle maintenance, or even resale value, that would make sense to better understand at the point of purchase? Combining all of those elements would produce a single number that makes it easier to compare the total cost of an EV to a traditional gas car.

A recent study gives us a “cost advantage” number to do just that.


There have been a few high-quality comprehensive looks at costs, but now there is a recent study by a well-known resource: Consumer Reports. Their October 2020 study demonstrates a good grasp of both the automaker and consumer aspects of the market and provides a comprehensive look at EV costs and savings.

Their numbers are subject to all the usual caveats – no one can predict the future, fuel costs may vary in your area, and specific costs related to specific vehicles depend on how far you drive, etc. Moreover, the Consumer Reports study solely examines owner costs; benefits to the grid and society, which are significant, are left for others to calculate. (For example, Recharge America examines some of those numbers at https://recharge-america.org/benefits-summary).


The study examines many different situations that confront potential vehicle owners and presents a wide range of numbers to accommodate them. The bottom line: the average EV has a total lifetime “cost advantage” of $6,000 to $10,000 over a comparable traditional gas car.

That means that for an individual owner weighing their options between two vehicles, owning the EV will come out roughly $8,000 ahead over its lifetime even factoring in the likely higher initial cost for the EV. Consumer Reports has already made the initial price difference part of its overall study calculation by converting those future savings to today’s dollars.  The EV will still save that owner $8,000 when compared to a comparable traditional gas car, despite what will likely be a “lower” initial price tag for the gas car.

If you drive more than the study assumes, you can save even more. And if you drive a larger vehicle (like an SUV or pickup), you can save even more. Perhaps best, if you compare the EV to a traditional gas car that matches its performance (which would mean a more expensive vehicle given how much better EVs perform than traditional alternatives) the study shows that consumers save even more.

Another interesting twist in terms of consumer benefits – the EV cost savings accrue over time, meaning that the longer you keep it, the more of the benefit you will reap. The good news is that this is a boon for used EV buyers, who can save far more money as a percentage of their purchase, yet the average new-car buyer still comes out ahead in most cases. Even in the few cases where they do not, the cost differences are small, yet they are still receiving the many benefits from driving electric – a smoother, quieter, more convenient car with class-leading performance.


We offer a link below to the full report for those wanting to explore further. Here we present two of the easier-to-understand study charts that spotlight savings available to consumers. The first (CR Table 4.1) compares the total cost of owning several popular EVs to the best-selling gas car in their class. Note that CR calculated larger savings than these; but because the savings are in the future, they “discounted” the future savings at 3% per year. That means these savings are directly comparable to the money you spend to buy the car today. They are saying that in terms of ownership costs, the EV is this much cheaper than the gas car, even though the highly-visible price tag cost may look higher.

Costs of EVs compared

The second (CR Table 4.4) shows similar savings numbers over the vehicle lifetime and for the first owner. In this case, however, they are comparing to a gas car in the same class that has similar performance to the EV (these vehicles are more expensive because EVs feature better performance). These higher-end gas cars cost more both to purchase and to fuel, so the savings are larger. Note that the substantial vehicle lifetime savings mean that used vehicle purchasers, which account for most people in the US car market, often time save almost as much as the new car purchaser while confronting lower initial vehicle costs.


The Consumer Reports study includes:

  • Actual purchase costs, not just MSRP
  • Financing costs
  • Incentives – the federal $7,500 tax credit for cars that are eligible
  • Reasonable vehicle lifetime assumptions – 200,000 miles over 15 years
  • Depreciation based on real data. Excluding compliance vehicles, and included a weighted average for state incentives, EV depreciation appears to be identical to gas vehicle depreciation
  • Maintenance costs based on real data. EVs cost almost exactly half as much as gas cars to maintain from CR’s data; and they cite other sources that report even lower EV costs
  • Future gasoline costs based on recent US Energy Information Administration baseline projections
  • Electricity costs covered both at-home charging and trip charging at DC fast-charge stations
  • A reasonable range of gas car comparisons in each class – each EV was compared to the best-selling, best-rated, most efficient, and most-similar performance gas vehicle in its class

Their study does not include sales tax, registration fees, insurance or charging station installation, as these numbers can vary widely based on location and owner characteristics.


EV Cost savings:

  • “Overall, these results show that the latest generation of mainstream EVs typically cost less to own than similar gas-powered vehicles, a new development in the automotive marketplace with serious potential consumer benefits.”
  • “For all [of the 9 most popular] EVs analyzed, the lifetime ownership costs were many thousands of dollars lower than all comparable ICE vehicles’ costs, with most EVs offering savings of between $6,000 and $10,000.”
  • “Overall, these results show that many EVs on the market today can provide consumers the two features they say they most want improved in their next vehicle—lower fuel and maintenance costs—in addition to the feature the auto industry advertises most often —performance—all at a lower overall cost.”
  • “Savings really ramp up when buyers seek an ICE vehicle that achieves the same acceleration performance as an EV.”

Used EVs:

  • “For ICE vehicles this used-car savings is partially offset by higher expected repair and maintenance costs for older vehicles, and the need to continue to pay for fuel, which makes up a large fraction of the total lifetime ownership costs for ICE vehicles. However, as shown in the previous chapters, EVs significantly reduce these costs, while their biggest drawback—higher purchase prices—is partially offset by depreciation.”
  • “While new EVs were found to offer significant cost savings over comparable ICE vehicles, the cost savings of 5- to 7-year-old used EVs was found to be two or three times larger on a percentage savings basis.”

DC Fast charging:

  • “Owners of EVs with a range of 250 miles or greater will be able to do 92% of their charging at home, needing only six stops at a public fast-charger per year.”


Article: https://www.consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/evs-offer-big-savings-over-traditional-gas-powered-cars/

Fact sheet: https://advocacy.consumerreports.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/EV-TCO-Overall-Fact-Sheet-FINAL-3.pdf

Study: https://advocacy.consumerreports.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/EV-Ownership-Cost-Final-Report-1.pdf

Chad Schwitters is an EV Technical Consultant