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updated: 3/8/2012 5:49 AM

Naperville set to embrace electric cars with charging station

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  • Video: How charging stations work

  • Video: Smart Grid powers cars


Naperville City Council member Bob Fieseler says his next car will be electric. And when he buys it, he'll likely have some assurance he'll never be stranded downtown.

Feiseler, long a champion for green energy, said the council likely will approve a recent recommendation by the city's Transportation Advisory Board to install an electric vehicle charging station at the Van Buren parking lot at Van Buren Avenue and Main Street.

The charging station will be roughly the size of a traditional gasoline pump.

Project Manager Caitlin Marcon said Wednesday the location was chosen for its visibility in the downtown area and the ability to tie power for the charger into a nearby trash compactor. It's also within walking distance of many shops and restaurants.

"Ideally someone could charge up while shopping and having a bite to eat and not have to worry about being stranded," she said.

Fieseler said he likes the proposed location.

"The location allows us to showcase the capabilities of our infrastructure and ability to handle the charging of electric cars that is facilitated by the Smart Grid technology," Fieseler said. "But we also need to deploy it in a place that is not found to be commercially unfair to any section of the city."

Last year, Marcon said, the city was given two electric vehicle charging stations as part of the Smart Grid Initiative. The other one, she said, will be installed at the city's Electric Service Center and used to test the impact of electric vehicle charging on the utility system.

Fieseler said he's convinced as many as 10 charging stations could be deployed throughout the city before long.

"There's admittedly not a whole lot of demand right now but this will be like the chicken and the egg," he said. "People will be hesitant to go all in on an electric car until they know the proper charging capabilities are in place. But that is inevitable."

Marcon said staff expects to bring the plan to city council on March 20 in hopes of having the station installed by May or June.

Once installed, the charging station will be free for one year as staff members collect data regarding cost, average time users spend plugged in and daily use.

Fieseler said he hopes to see the demand outweigh the one station supply very soon

"I have this dream that Naperville, with our Smart Grid technology, will use our capabilities as a way of attracting electric vehicle field operations into the city," he said.

"I'd love to see that sleepy part of Ogden Avenue, between Quincy and Aurora, become an electric car sales magnet area but we must take baby steps. Stopping this is like stopping HD TV. You just can't have your wood panel TV and rabbit ears any more."

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