The Borough of Kutztown recently installed a ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station.
“What a wonderful surprise to see and use the ChargePoint charger installed at the municipal lot in Kutztown,” said resident Scot Horst.
Horst believes the charging station will be an attraction for many motorists driving through the area.
“Since I purchased an all-electric car in 2016, I joined all of the charging networks and I plan my trips around the chargers. It’s so great to see the network expanding, and it says a lot about Kutztown to have one here,” he said. “A town that is so steeped in history, and yet has an eye on the future, is a very interesting place.”
“I believe electric vehicles are the future of transportation and charging will be even more essential as new car companies expand their electric vehicle offerings,” Horst added.
Kutztown Borough’s Superintendent of Electric, Steve Diehl, presented the idea to Borough Council.
“The inspiration for this idea started when some other boroughs in Pennsylvania with their own electric departments like Kutztown either installed some chargers or were looking onto it,” said Diehl. “Since the next closest charging units are in Allentown and Reading I thought it was a great idea to pursue."
When council liked the idea, Diehl purchased the station, applied for the grant, and the Borough’s Electric Department personnel installed the unit in November. The cost of the unit was $10,000 with $9,000 covered by the grant. The final cost to the Borough is $1,000.
"We’re always being innovative here in Kutztown," he said. "The end result we’re hoping for is that travelers with electric vehicles stop by Kutztown to see what our town has to offer. Hopefully when the COVID situation subsides, more people will be out traveling.”
“Hopefully the station will eventually provide more business to our downtown and our residents also look into electric vehicle alternatives,” added Diehl.
Vice President of Borough Council Derek Mace, chairperson of the Finance and Electric Committee, said Diehl keeps up to date on technology related to electric distribution and consumption.
“There has been interest in recent years for a charging station in the borough. More importantly, we’re currently the only charging station between Reading and Allentown,” he said. “Electric vehicle sale increases and the expansion of manufacturers’ model lines suggest that we will see even more of these vehicles in the near future.”
Mace said that he has seen both residents and visitors in electric cars on Main Street.
"Kutztown Borough has a long history of providing new services and technology for residents. This charging station technology is the type of service that residents and visitors want from Kutztown. It offers more choices to everyone who lives here or visits. Additionally this is a way for the Borough to support a movement toward more environmentally friendly choices,” he said.
“As with all good governance, the goal is to create opportunities and infrastructure that can benefit everyone,” continued Mace. “As with our recycling system and our wellhead protection program, this project truly fits the intersection of Kutztown’s commitment to health and local durability.”
The station can accommodate charging two cars at once. A universal electric vehicle charging system made by ChargePoint, this unit provides approximately 20 miles of drive time after one hour of charging. The charging cost per hour is $1.35.
Placed in the Kutztown municipal parking lot behind Young Ones Records, the ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station is located next to a hitching post for horses.
“I like it and I am in favor of it,” said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel. “I found it amusing and at the same time historic that the charging station is next to a hitching post on the community parking lot at Young Ones.”
Kutztown resident Warren Shaub, a member of the Kutztown Environmental Advisory Commission, shared with Mayor Schlegel a photo of a horse at the hitch next to the electric charging station. Schlegel then shared the photo via Facebook.
“My comment to the mayor at the time was this is an effort to offset the carbon, ahem, ‘footprint’ of the horse next to it,” said Shaub. “Personally, I think its placement is perfect, little of the old with the new.”
Kutztown resident and local climate activist Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth, was pleased to hear the news about the charging station. She serves on the Kutztown Borough Planning Commission and previously served on the Kutztown EAC.
“Putting charging stations in the municipal lot is a great move by the Borough. Appealing to the growing population of electric vehicle drivers will surely go a long way to making Kutztown a destination. It just goes to show that we can do right by the planet and by our local economy at the same time,” said Feridun.