BRISTOL — Connecticut’s network of electric vehicle charging stations is growing and right now, Crowley Nissan in Bristol is leading the way.

The dealership has added a new high-speed charger for electric vehicles, and Ken Crowley said the charger is available for free public use. It can charge an electric vehicle to 80 percent of capacity in less than 30 minutes, while other chargers often take as long as eight hours.

“The idea for the high-speed charger came from Nissan,” said Crowley, who owns Crowley Auto Group. “The car company wanted drivers to get charged faster.”

Currently, there are 338 publicly available electric vehicle charging stations in Connecticut. GE in Plainville has 20. The state has supported the growth of the EV charging network with the help of the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, municipalities and private businesses.

Gov. Dannel Malloy says more than 90 percent of state residents live within 20 miles of a public charging station.

Several years ago, Malloy asked Crowley to join an advisory committee to study the electric car issue. Former DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty came up with an idea for a network of charging stations.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Crowley said. “It enables [EV] drivers to go anywhere in the state and not run out of electricity.” Right now, nine chargers at Crowley dealerships are open to the public.

Crowley says he used a combination of a state grant and business funds to install the high-speed charger. Grants for the charging stations, available from funds from the Northeast Utilities-NStar merger agreement of 2012, will aid Connecticut in complying with the state’s Clean Cars law, which requires electric vehicles to make up 15 percent of sales by 2025.

Crowley Nissan General Manager Jason Fontaine said the hookup to the high-speed charger “is easy and fast. An electric car owner can use it here whenever it’s necessary.” EV drivers should charge their car when the battery is down to 20 percent capacity or there are only 20 miles left on their charge.

Fontaine says Crowley Nissan sells 10 to 15 electric vehicles per year. The cost of an electric vehicle at Crowley begins at $30,000 before any rebates.

“At this stage, strong legislation and public policy will help get more electric vehicles on the road in Connecticut,” said Shannon Smyth, energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a founding member of the Connecticut Electric Vehicle Coalition. “Incentives like unrestricted access to HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, preferential parking and reduced charging costs at night when electricity demand is low will encourage consumers to embrace electric vehicles.” The Connecticut Electric Vehicle Coalition, including Acadia Center, the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Environment Connecticut and the Sierra Club, is promoting legislation during the current legislative session to expand electric vehicle use in the state. The coalition argues that increased electric vehicle use will achieve significant public health, environmental and climate benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.

Scott Whipple can be reached at (860) 801-5205, or

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