Driving Toward a Greener Future

The next time you visit the upscale SoNo Collection mall in South Norwalk, or get groceries at the Stop & Shop on Connecticut Avenue, your eye will likely be drawn to the large, gas pump-like structures with sleek digital screens located near the entrances.

If Brandt Hastings’ eco-friendly plan is realized, we’ll soon be doing more than stopping to watch the content on the screens: We’ll be plugging our electric vehicles into Volta electric vehicle charging stations like these wherever we go!

“The transition to electric vehicles is likely one of the greatest changes in the way we travel we’ll see in our lifetimes, and it’s happening right now,” says Hastings, a Darien resident and the Chief Commercial Officer of Volta, an American electric vehicle infrastructure company whose charging stations are popping up across the country. “People are switching to EVs faster than anyone thought would happen.”

Electric vehicles and charging stations are at the forefront of America’s response to climate change and catastrophic weather events, to which Connecticut is far from immune. According to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, since 1950 the average annual air temperature in the state has increased by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with projections that the sea level could rise a foot and a half by 2050 and up to three feet by 2100, with the potential loss of up to 24,000 acres of coastline.

Locally, Volta charging stations can be found at SoNo Collection Mall and Stop & Shop in Norwalk. top right: Brandt Hastings, Chief Commercial Officer of Volta

Founded a little more than 12 years ago, Volta prominently situates its charging stations where citizens routinely go, and loads advertisers’ content on the handsome, 55-inch-wide screens. It’s a mix Hastings believes will boost the rollout of the EV charging infrastructure nationally, with advertising revenue generated by Volta’s media network enabling the company to install stations in places with few EV drivers.

In additional to SoNo Collection and Stop & Shop, Volta partners with pharmacy and retail giants Walgreens and Kohls, and works with advertisers like Zoom, Coke and Apple. The collaborations give the company brand recognition and a platform to expand further by accelerating the rollout of infrastructure as EVs become more mainstream.

“Once our highly visible stations are installed,” he says, “they give every passerby a boost of confidence that when they switch to an EV, there is already a network of public chargers in their community they can easily plug into.”

Currently, the Volta network is made up of over 2,900 chargers and 5,400 digital media screens. To date, the company has powered more than 141 million electric miles for EV drivers, the equivalent, according to Hastings, of avoiding approximately 66 million pounds of CO2 that otherwise would have been produced by gas-powered vehicles.

Hastings is charged by Volta’s progress.

“As a parent, it’s incredibly important to me that my day-to-day work directly helps create a cleaner, healthier future for my children,” he says. “Working at Volta gives me this opportunity, and it truly makes it easy to show up at the office each day fully energized.”

Photographs: mitarart – stock.adobe.com; Portrait, contributed; Volta charging station by Venera Alexandrova

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