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Easton Man Gets All Charged Up

Kevin Porter of Easton is the first United Illuminating residential customer to get a charging station for an electric car. On March 21, just three days after he purchased a Chevy Volt, UI installed a charging unit in Porter's garage on Blanchard Road.

"I do think whatever we can do to get off a dependency on foreign oil is a good thing," said Porter.

Porter contacted UI with the idea of using his garage as a pilot station. UI will evaluate the performance of the charging station and possibly come up with a program for other electric car owners to lease or purchase charging stations.

The charging station reduces the charging time from 10 hours -- with a regular wall outlet -- to four hours. The cost to charge his Volt with the charging station is the same as charging it with a wall outlet.

"It's neat for someone who makes electricity to be driving an electric car," said Porter, who installed solar panels on his roof three years ago and now produces about one-third of the electricity he uses. He said it's estimated to cost $1.50 to fully charge his Volt.

"I still pay for the electricity, but I also make electricity. It's more cost-effective for me," said Porter. "I believe in self-reliance and being self-efficient. [The Volt] fits into my personality."

Porter drives about 24 miles to work at UBS in Westport each day. He said his Volt can travel about 35 miles using electricity before it "seamlessly" switches over to gasoline. There are charging stations currently located at different businesses, including UBS in Stamford, Porter said.

In addition to cost savings and benefits to the environment, Porter said, "there's a little bit of a coolness factor" to the Volt.

He backed the Volt out of his garage with barely a sound. With a digital touch screen, the car shows Porter how much battery life is left, how far he has driven and if he's driving efficiently.

He said energy-saving initiatives like the Volt and the solar panels are educational for his children.

"I bring pictures to school," said Porter's daughter, Maddy, who attends Helen Keller Middle School.

Porter lives in Easton with Maddy, his wife, Jody, his son, James, and daughter Lindsay.

What do you do to be more energy efficient? Leave your comments below.

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