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Elgin council to consider another electric vehicle charging station proposal

The city Elgis considering buying electric car charging stations like this one. | Submitted

The city of Elgin is considering buying electric car charging stations like this one. | Submitted

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Updated: February 22, 2014 6:11AM

ELGIN — The city council is set Wednesday night to restart a discussion it tabled in October about installing charging stations for electric cars in downtown locations.

The initial staff recommendation included sponsorships from the Fox Valley Electric Auto Association in the amount of $1,170. But according to supporting material for the meeting, the FVEAA has since rescinded its initial sponsorship offer, deciding it would only sponsor stations that will always be free to the public.

The council suggested getting more sponsors, and two have been found. Judson University would give $1,500, and the Elgin Climate Change Organization would donate $300. City staff is recommending using this money to pay for the electricity used by the stations until funds are exhausted — which is estimated to take about two years.

The revised proposal includes charging stations capable of charging users a fee to be set and collected by the city. The recommendation is to charge $1 per hour of charging to cover the city’s costs, at least initially.

The revised proposal also includes units that track exactly how often the stations are used and by whom, and how much electricity was dispensed, which was not the case with the initially proposed units. The more sophisticated charging stations come with a higher price tag but also would allow the city to recoup its money.

Cost sharing

The total cost to install the two new smart stations would be $18,656, but Elgin could recoup half that through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Rebate Program, bringing the city’s share to $9,328.

Under that plan, an existing charging station in the parking deck at The Centre would be replaced with a networked, dual-vehicle electric vehicle charging station. A second dual-vehicle charging station would be installed at the Spring Street parking deck.

Staff initially had suggested installing three additional, free-to-use charging stations. That plan called for placing one station at each parking garage downtown and keeping the one now at The Center, which has been sponsored by Waste Management.

The total amount needed to install all three new stations would have been $9,993, with the money coming from the city’s take of casino money. The DCEO rebate would have reduced that amount to $4,996.

According to supporting material for the meeting, as of October, there were only 987 electric vehicle license plate registrations in Illinois, although that number doesn’t include hybrid models such as a version of the Toyota Prius and the Chevy Volt.

Role questioned

During the October discussion, Councilman Terry Gavin said it was not the role of city government to provide energy for privately used vehicles. The money the city would spend could be put to better use, Gavin said of the initial plan.

Councilman John 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 pizzas.

Supporters of putting in charging stations at the time, including Mayor David Kaptain, see them as a chance to build on the city’s green image and a way to give residents access to an emerging technology.

According to the website, in addition to the public charging station at The Centre, there are units at McGrath Nissan, at the Wal-Mart (a 120V outlet for customers in a parking spot), and a ComEd-maintained EV plug at 350 Second St.

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