Electric vehicle charging station destroyed in Helena


An electric vehicle charging station was destroyed over the weekend at Mountain View Park on the east side of Helena, but as to whether it was a deliberate act of vandalism or a traffic mishap remains a mystery.


An electric vehicle charging station was destroyed over the weekend at Mountain View Park.

Either way, it has pulled the plug on efforts to provide a place for people living at or visiting Mountain View Meadows with a convenient place to recharge their vehicles.

Rebecca Ryland, director of design for Mountain View Meadows, said she was notified Saturday afternoon that the charging station at 5 S. Alice St. had been damaged.

Ryland said it appears to be a deliberate act, adding she believes the driver came, backed up and destroyed the station.

“I’m distressed,” she said. “Let’s just say I am very distressed.”

The EV station, now crumpled on the ground, remained along the roadway in front of Mountain View Park on Monday morning.

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Ryland said police were notified Saturday.

Police said Monday that it had been classified as an “accident non-injury crash” in which a vehicle drove into the charging station. He said it was not known what type of vehicle was involved.

Ryland said there is a “1% chance” it happened accidentally.

“I think the evidence at the scene looks deliberate and they should come out and take another look,” she said Monday, adding she did not know if it could have been someone making a political statement about electric vehicles.

She said she and her husband, Mark Runkle, who is the developer of Mountain View Meadows, plan on offering a $500 reward. She said the charging station was the only public one installed in the 450-home housing development.

Ryland said the charging station was installed through a program with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

A DEQ spokeswoman said Monday they were “aware of this unfortunate event.”

Public Relations Specialist Moira Davin said the electric vehicle charger in Mountain View Meadows was partially funded through the state’s share of the Volkswagen settlement.

The project cost was $16,443 and the state awarded $8,500, which amounted to 51% of the cost of the project, she said.

The United States and the state of California filed a lawsuit in 2016 against Volkswagen, alleging it had manufactured diesel cars sold and operated in the U.S. with systems intended to defeat emissions tests. A $15.7 billion settlement was reached and DEQ Montana received $12.6 million from $2.9 billion of that settlement set aside for environmental mitigation trust. 

Davin said there are about 90 similar charging stations throughout Montana. She said DEQ has not heard of damaged chargers elsewhere in the state.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.


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