Elgin Council considers 3 more plug-in stations, lease deal with Lawrence Hall
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 21, 2013 2:14PM
The Elgin City Council is scheduled to discuss installing three more electric car charging stations, similar to this one, in various spots in the city. They would be in addition to the one station the city has been operating since 2008. | AP file
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:14AM
ELGIN — At Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, the city council will discuss installing three more charging stations for electric vehicles in Elgin’s downtown parking garages.
Elgin already has one public station, located in the garage for The Centre of Elgin on Symphony Way. It was put in place in 2008 and has been replaced once with more-up-to-date technology.
Under consideration are stations in the Fulton and Spring Street parking deck and another station on The Centre’s deck, for a total of four charging stations downtown. According to the PlugShare.com website, there also is a station at McGrath Nissan, while four Elgin-area homes have residential chargers.
This project will take advantage of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Rebate Program, which would reimburse the city 50 percent of the costs per unit, up to $3,000 per unit. According to supporting material for the meeting, the total amount needed to install all three stations is $9,993, with the funding coming from the city’s take of casino taxes. The DCEO rebate would reduce that amount to $4,996.
So far, Elgin has not imposed a fee for users of its charging stations, and staff is recommending continuing the practice. With the low cost of electricity, “charging for charging is seen as adding an unnecessary barrier to an emerging market,” the meeting information states.
Using the specs for the Nissan Leaf’s battery, staff calculated that at about 25 cents per hour — with a station in use at eight hours a day, five days a week, with a battery actually charging 75 percent of that time — the city’s cost would be $390 for the entire year.
To cover these costs, Waste Management has been sponsoring the city’s first charging station. The Fox Valley Electric Automobile Association has agreed to sponsor the electricity costs for the three new charging stations for the first year of use in the amount of $1,170.
If after the first year the FVEAA chooses to not sponsor these spaces, additional sponsors will be sought. Signs indicating sponsorship will be installed at each station at the city’s cost.
As for how many people actually have electric cars, material for the meeting notes that as of Oct. 8, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office had issued 987 license plates for electric vehicles throughout the state — a number that does not include those with vanity plates or plug-in hybrids, which use both electricity and gasoline.
Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said Elgin got involved in electric car efforts through the FVEAA.
Kaptain said he and his wife, Sandy, bought a dealer demo model Chevy Volt two months ago from Bigger’s in Elgin. The Volt plugs into a standard wall outlet and has a gas generator that gives it a range of about 400 miles. His wife is the main driver of the Volt, Kaptain said, and so far the farthest she has driven in it is back and forth to Aurora.
Kaptain noted that there are significant dealer and state rebates as well as a federal tax credit for buying electric vehicles.
Putting in the stations “is a chicken-or-the-egg situation,” Kaptain said. “If we want people to do things that are better for the environment like buying electric cars, then we need to have infrastructure in place as they start to do so.”
In other business, at its regular meeting, the council is set to vote on ratifying the execution of an assignment and assumption of a lease between the Larkin Center social service agency and Lawrence Hall Youth Services of Chicago.
Last Friday, after 117 years of service, the Larkin Center officially went out of business.
The Courier-News reported last week that 35 children living at one of the Larkin Center’s group homes would either be staying at the facility they currently live in or would be transferred to a Lawrence Hall Youth Services facility. Adults receiving housing services through the Larkin Center were to able to stay in the apartments where they currently live, with their care now overseen by the Ecker Center for Mental Health in Elgin.
Chicago-based Lawrence Hall has taken over operation of four of the six Larkin locations. The site in question for the council Wednesday is the Rakow Center School at 15 Sports Way, which stands on part of the old Elgin Mental Health Center property near Route 20 and Route 31, which is owned by the state of Illinois. It was renovated in 2000 and is leased to the city for a nominal fee, with the city in turn leasing the building to the Larkin Center.
Kaptain noted that this would be a temporary solution, but one that allows the children who had been under the Larkin Center’s care to experience a smoother transition.