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updated: 6/20/2012 10:35 AM

Naperville closer to adding electric car charging station

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Electric car owners can soon get a charge out of downtown Naperville, literally.

Council members Tuesday approved the installation of an electric vehicle charging station at the Van Buren parking lot at Van Buren Avenue and Main Street.

Planning and Transportation Team Leader Karyn Robles said Tuesday's approval allows the city to begin the installation and begin marketing the new station "with the goal of having the unit up and running in the next four to six weeks."

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

Councilman Bob Fieseler, who has said his next vehicle will be electric, said the charger can't be installed fast enough.

"I'm totally in favor of this because it is the perfect example of Naperville adopting technology that's going to put us in the forefront of the emerging field of clean energy," he said. "Electric vehicles are coming. They're good because the electricity for them is made here in the U.S. and there's less pollution."

Once the charger is installed and activated, the spot will be limited to electric cars only and a charging limit of three consecutive hours per car will be enforced.

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.

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

Electrical Engineering and Tech Services Division Manager Olga Geynisman said those studies could last about a year before those two additional chargers could be places in the community for public use. Some councilmen, however, would like to see all three available to the public as soon as possible.

"If we really want to see how this is going to work, all three should be out in the public because the public already owns these vehicles," said Councilman Doug Krause. "if you want to beta test, here's a prime example. Put it out on the street and let the public use it."

City Manage Doug Krieger, however, told councilmen that whether the two testing models are made available in the next year or not, he foresees eventually having charging stations throughout the town.

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