Electric vehicle charging stations: Good government investment?

Apr 24, 2012

An emerging car market presents governmental bodies with the potential need to provide the necessary infrastructure.  But, is there enough demand yet for public investment of charging stations? 

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates there will be 1.2 million electric vehicles on America's roads by the year 2015.  This year, a dozen such models have been introduced to the market.  The Chicago-area has seen a lot of activity in terms of providing units to charge these vehicles.  But, a recent published report says the Chicago-area has 26 'quick-charging' stations for electric vehicles.  But, only 18 cars that can use these types of stations were registered with the state.  A deal that includes support from the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois calls for more of these stations to be added by next year.  Officials involved with the project says they will do some retrofitting to accommodate more electric cars. 

Karen Kosky is  Manager of Resource Conservation Programs for Kane County.  She says she understands why people might question setting up a vast network of stations before the electric vehicle market gains serious momentum.  She says her county is in the process exploring needs for this type of infrastructure.  When it comes to county-owned units, they decided to start with just one charging station, which is located at the courthouse:

"We are collecting data associated with this charging station.  So, we have the capability to track usage over time."

The unit Kane County is installing is being paid for by a federal grant.  The county’s infrastructure ordinance for charging stations is the first of its kind in Illinois.