Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the town’s new electric vehicle charging station located on the northeast wall of the Hotchkiss/Crawford Museum.

The dedication ceremony held on April 28 was attended by Nathan Sponseller, HCCC executive director; Lou Villaire of Atlasta Solar; Karen Martin and Karen Lacey, representing the Hotchkiss/Crawford Historical Society; Kim Shay, HCCC vice-president; Mitch Swanda, HCCC president; Sue Whittlesey, HCCC treasurer and Mary Hockenbery, Mayor Pro-Tem.

“It’s been fabulous. I have to give most of the credit to Kim Shay. She’s been extraordinary in getting this project done. She was there every time taking the next step and working with the state to put the grant in place,” Villaire said, referencing the state’s Charge Ahead Grant program.

Villaire said the state has been looking at placing EV charging stations in more rural areas, places with multi-family housing and businesses. The state program aims to improve air quality, encourage use of electric vehicles across the state and support the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020. Since its beginning in 2013, the Charge Ahead Colorado program has made grant awards for more than 1000 EV charging stations across the state.

“This was really a good idea on Kim’s part to have this here at the museum because it is very centrally located with good parking close to downtown. This is a stop to various routes, it’s a great place to be,” said Villaire.

Villaire explained that the two Level 2 charges are similar to the type of circuit you would have for an electric dryer or welder. The chargers made by Power Charge work off a network that allows drivers to make payments from a smartphone app.

“This station will generate a little bit of revenue for the museum,” Shay said.

Atlasta will reimburse the museum for the electricity and cover the cost of the Power Charge network after that they will split the proceeds.

“I don’t necessarily see that as being a lot. We want to cover our costs, but as it continues to get more use we hope there will be some revenue (for the museum),” Villaire said.

Shay is banking on the US 50 closure and detour on CO 92 through Hotchkiss to bring in some customers. She said over time it could become an ongoing revenue stream for the museum. The chamber will be tracking the station’s usage during the US 50 closure and beyond.

While the number of electric cars in the county are small, the numbers are increasing every month. The addition of the EV charging station in Hotchkiss is also an incentive for more folks to consider making the switch from gas to electric or hybrid.

While the Hotchkiss EV station is not a fast charging station, Shay said Tesla offers an adapter that will work with the station. The Level 3 charging station would cost an additional $12,000.

“This is a great opportunity for the town, having a charging station here. What I really like is it blends in well with the museum. I think people in the town are really happy with it and then hopefully it will help us draw people coming through the North Fork as a stopping spot,” said Swanda, chamber president.

Signage for the new station will be coming soon to direct travelers to the museum located one block south of Bridge Street.

“We are looking at putting some pamphlets for the town and the county here in weather proof boxes. We’ll also have a map of Hotchkiss. So, if it takes maybe two hours to charge their vehicle, they can walk over and get a meal at one of the great restaurants in town and also take a tour of the museum. We’re hoping that it benefits all entities from that aspect,” Swanda said.

“It sounds like the usage from our preliminary reports is that it’s actually exceeding some expectations initially. People here in town are aware of it and they’re leveraging it,” he said, adding that drivers with the phone app can easily find the nearest station.

With summer approaching, Swanda said there will be plenty of activity starting with the sheep dog trials and later the Delta County Fair hosted in Hotchkiss. The Hotchkiss/Crawford Museum will offer free admission on May 7-8 during the Hotchkiss Sheep Dog Trials.

“We just ask as the county has remained in the ‘green status’ that people come outside and enjoy themselves at these great events that are hosted in our area.”

As for COVID-19 restrictions, Swanda said he expects the town to follow the guidance provided by the county and make any necessary adjustments.

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