New Hampshire aims to welcome electric vehicle-driving residents and tourists at rally and relay 

  • An electric car charging station is seen at Granite State Credit Union in Tilton on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 9/13/2019 11:50:16 AM
Modified: 9/13/2019 11:50:04 AM

The annual effort to show that electric cars should be part of daily life in New Hampshire will be more mobile this year, with a five-leg relay from Colebrook to Portsmouth on Monday that passes through the Concord area.

“This year we thought, ‘What can we do that is a little bit bigger, something that hasn’t been done before?’” said Brianna Brand, senior program director at Clean Energy NH, regarding the annual Drive Electric Week celebration. This year it’s called the Charge Forward EV Rally.

“We want to show that (electric cars) are around, they’re here, they’re not just the high-priced Teslas any more. And we want to showcase that New Hampshire has charging stations accessible, and the places across the state you can go if you have an E.V.,” she said.

That last fact, she said, is important because two of the state’s major sources of tourists – Massachusetts and the Montreal region – are relative hot spots for electric vehicles.

“From a tourism perspective, I think it’s more and more important that we can be accessible to those drivers. We want to make sure they know they can stop and charge here, so they’ll visit,” she said. 

The relay won’t be the only electric vehicle event in the area. The ninth annual Drive Electric Week celebration, featuring all sort of electric cars, charging equipment, and information will be held Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the City Hall plaza next to the Concord Farmer’s Market. 

New Hampshire is a laggard compared to neighboring states when it comes to public charging stations for electric vehicles, according to unofficial data gathered by sites like ChargePoint. A commission established by the Legislature is studying how to spend $4.6 million for such charging infrasture. The money comes from the state’s portion of a $15 billion settlement of a lawsuit by the U.S. government against Volkswagen for rigging its diesel vehicles’ computers to cheat emissions tests and downplay emissions of nitrogen oxide.

The settlement is distributed to states based on the number of vehicles affected; New Hampshire is receiving $31 million. Half will go toward replacing diesel-powered vehicles owned by state and local governments, including school buses, with newer diesel or alternative-fuel vehicles; and $6.2 million will be up for bids from public or private groups that have proposals for ways to reduce air pollution.

The Charge Forward EV Rally, which organizers say is the first of its kind in the nation, will kick off at 7:30 a.m. at LaPerle’sIGA grocery store in Colebook, then head out. There will be press stops in Conway and Plymouth and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway before a 1:45 p.m. gathering at the State House in Concord, after which the relay will head south and east through Manchester to the final gathering at Portsmouth Brewery at 5 p.m.

Each leg will be driven by a well-known driver in a different electric model, including established models like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model X and Chevy Bolt to less-known or newer electric models from Volvo, BMW and Audi, as well as the Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid. Drivers include Victoria Sheehan, the state Department of Transportation commissioner; Alex Ray, founder of the Common Man restaurants; and radio personality Greg Kretschmar.

Owners of electric cars are welcome to join the relay, Brand said. They can show up at any of the scheduled stops and get a flag to show they’re part of the procession. Drivers can, but don’t have to, alert Brand to their plans email at

“Come and show that there are a lot of people in New Hampshire who have adopted this tech, and are enthusiastic about it,” she said. 

Science cafe returns

Charging stations and other questions about electric vehicles will be the topic of Science Cafe N.H. in Concord when it returns from its summer hiatus. 

As before, the free session will be at Makris Lobster and Steak House in Concord starting at 6 p.m., with buffet dinner available. It will be held Wednesday, Sept. 25, and reservations are required because we fill up every time. Call 225-7665 to reserve space. 

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



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