Elgin council pulls plug for now on plan to install more electric car charging stations
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 23, 2013 7:40PM
The Elgin City Council has tabled installing additional electric vehicle charging stations, like this one reading the charge for Todd Dore of the Fox Valley Electric Auto Association in Chicago. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: November 26, 2013 6:20AM
ELGIN — The city council Wednesday pulled the plug on plans to install three more charging stations for electric vehicles in Elgin’s downtown parking garages.
Councilman Toby Shaw suggested tabling the item after a brief discussion on the matter in which some council members — including Shaw — suggested the city look for more corporate sponsorship for the effort past the first year of usage for the three new stations.
The motion to table passed 5-4. Shaw and fellow council members Rich Dunne, Terry Gavin, John Prigge and Carol Rauschenberger voted to delay the proposal. Mayor Dave Kaptain and council members Anna Moeller, Tish Powell and John Steffen voted to move forward on the plan.
During the discussion, Gavin said it was not the role of city government to provide energy for privately used vehicles. The money the city would be spending could be put to better use, he said.
Moeller wanted to know how much the existing station is being used.
And Prigge said, “Who are we trying to impress with this? Is someone going to write an article or give us an award?” He called the measure before the council ridiculous and offensive, and likened it to forcing pizza eaters to order pepperoni on their pies.
Elgin currently has one public station, located in the garage for The Centre of Elgin downtown. It was first installed in 2008 and has been replaced once with more up-to-date technology.
The stations under consideration would be placed in the Fulton and Spring Street decks, and another on The Centre’s deck, for a total of four charging stations downtown.
As presented Wednesday, the project would 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 money coming from the city’s take of casino money. The DCEO rebate would reduce that amount to $4,996.
So far, Elgin has not charged 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 stats 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 that battery actually charging 75 percent of that time — it would cost the city $390 a 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 association chooses to no longer pay for the operating costs, additional sponsors would be sought. Signs indicating sponsorship would be installed at each station at the city’s cost.
Prigge noted that he was the one who suggested the existing station be sponsored. Others — including Shaw, Dunne and Powell — wanted assurances about sponsorships beyond one year.
Kaptain had noted earlier that Elgin first got involved in electric car efforts through the FVEAA.
As for how many people actually have electric cars, material for the meeting noted that as of Oct. 8, a total of 987 Illinois license plates were issued for electric vehicles, which doesn’t include those with vanity plates or plug-in hybrids, which use both electricity and gasoline. There was no breakdown on how many of those vehicles are in Elgin.