Christian Gilbert, a salesperson at PowerWise, demonstrates the software that customers can use to monitor electricity usage. PHOTO BY DAVID ROZA

Bucksport Council OKs electric car charging station

BUCKSPORT — The automotive future is about to come to Bucksport.

On July 27, the Town Council approved a request by local business owner Carsten Steenberg to set up a vehicle charging station in a parking space next to Bucksport House of Pizza.

The charging station will be among the first in Hancock County. According to the website, there are 10 public stations on Mount Desert Island, one public and one private station in Trenton and one in Surry.

Steenberg said his 240-volt station will help put Bucksport on the eco-tourism map. Electric vehicle owners look for stations on websites such as Open Charge, PlugShare and ChargePoint.

“People are planning their routes for charging stations,” he said. “People going to Bar Harbor might stop in Bucksport for a pizza and a walk while they charge instead of going through Bangor.”

Travelers will be allowed to charge there for a maximum of four hours, so they will have plenty of time to stroll along the waterfront or check out the Lighthouse Arts Center.

“It’s basically going to help put Bucksport on the map in a new, high-tech way,” Steenberg said.

The business owner said that charging at the level two J1772 station will be free, and can accommodate 90 percent of electrical vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

The electricity will come from PowerWise, the energy efficiency business that Steenberg owns and which sits directly east of House of Pizza.

PowerWise CEO Carsten Steenberg poses with the electric vehicle charging station, which will be installed next to his business in Bucksport later this year. Photo courtesy of Eric Rollins

Steenberg will pay for the installation and electricity, but he needs the town’s help to paint a parking space and install signage in a professional manner. Public charging spaces need to be painted green and stenciled with the words “EV charging only.”

An electrical vehicle charging station fits well next to PowerWise, which sells equipment and software for business and home owners to actively monitor and control their electricity usage.

“I think primarily the technology is a way to manage a building and understand what’s going on,” said Christian Gilbert, who works in PowerWise’s sales department. “You don’t want that air conditioning running forever, or heating systems running excessively.”

With the help of an electrician, PowerWise customers hook up a SightSage energy monitor to their electrical panels. The SightSage collects information about the building’s power usage and sends it to the customer via the internet. That way, the customer can monitor the building’s power usage anytime and anywhere.

“My wife and I travel once or twice a year on a major trip, and it’s nice to pull out my phone and say ‘Cool, the house is standing, the lights are on, all right. I can go back on my vacation now,’” Gilbert said.

The system also tells customers which systems are using the most power.

“For a business the electricity bill can be thousands of dollars a month,” Gilbert said. “You can say ‘Hey, let’s see what’s contributing to that electricity bill. Wow, my refrigeration system is way out of line. Maybe I can upgrade my equipment, what would be the savings there?’”

Gilbert said that installing the PowerWise system can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the size of the home or business. But Gilbert said that lower electricity bills can quickly turn that investment into savings.

PowerWise used to be located in Blue Hill, but it was moved to Main Street this summer because Bucksport is a more central location for employees.

“I think it’s a good location; close to Bangor, close to Bar Harbor, close to Augusta,” said Gilbert, a Franklin resident. “I’ve talked to people in the area and they seem to think Bucksport is booming.”

David Roza

David Roza

David grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and now covers news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.