State's First Public Level 3 Electric Vehicle Fast Charger Installed at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – The installation of the commonwealth’s first public level 3 electric vehicle fast charger at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was marked on Feb. 18 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr., UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and other campus officials.

Located near the Transportation Services building on the campus, the level 3 charger was obtained through a partnership with Nissan USA. The unit allows for an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes and the average charge time is 12 minutes. Nissan Leafs are currently the only electric passenger vehicles in the U.S. that allow for fast charging, but other models are expected to begin using an adapter for fast charging within the next year.

“UMass Amherst is leading the Commonwealth in adopting this important new technology that moves our campus closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Subbaswamy.

“Developing the infrastructure necessary to charge electric vehicles makes them a more viable option for the Commonwealth’s residents,” said Sullivan. “The Patrick administration is committed to expanding the use of cleaner vehicles to protect the environment and reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels.”           

The level 3 charger will be available to members of Chargepoint, a national system that provides either free access or manages a pay-per-visit account, similar to an EZ Pass account. Chargepoint also provides its members with information on charging station locations from coast to coast.

Data from the charger will be used by UMass Amherst researchers as part of ongoing studies of emerging technologies, particularly in the area of transportation engineering.

The campus is also installing four level 2 chargers on campus later this year. Those units can charge a car in 4-5 hours.

Electricity for the charging stations will be produced by the campus’s Central Heating Plant. While the plant uses natural gas to generate energy, the electricity goes directly to the cars, as opposed to the power plant fueling the petrol plant and then going to gas to fuel cars. This cuts the vehicle emissions to a quarter of what they would be for gas cars, according to Transportation Services.

UMass Amherst officials have also reached a long-term deal with Jerry Rome Nissan in West Springfield to offer Nissan Leafs to faculty and students at the price they are available to the auto manufacturer’s employees.