The first of possibly several electric vehicle charging stations is being unveiled by the city of Naperville.
City officials will flip the switch on the city's first public station, in the downtown Van Buren Street parking lot, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The raffle winners selected to win five residential electric charging stations will also be announced.
The Van Buren charging station is a Level 2 charger that will allow users to partially recharge their vehicles for up to three hours. Downtown business owners are counting on electric car owners shopping and dining downtown while charging up.
City Manager Doug Krieger said the first charging station will serve as "a pilot project to monitor the unit's popularity and usage" and determine whether to expand the program.
Electric vehicles must be receiving a charge while using the parking space, and can do so for up to three hours.
If the station is as well received as city officials think it will be, the city could soon add as many as 10 more thanks to a partnership with San Francisco-based ECOtality's EV Project, which would provide free stations and a small portion of the $7,000 installation costs.
The $230 million project has been funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and electric car manufacturers and has now set up stations in nine states.
Naperville project manager Caitlin Marcon, said ECOtality reached out to Naperville recently because of the city had also received federal grants for the current charging stations.
"We're investigating the prospects of a deal right now and we've identified several locations we think would lend themselves to housing a charger," Marcon said. "Right now the deal is very open ended. As long as each location we pick is suitable place and ECOtality agrees they can get good data collection from it, we can get as many stations as we want."
So far, she said, the city has identified five public properties and would like to sign up five private property owners, for a total of 10 stations.
If a deal is struck, Marcon said she would be bringing it to city council soon because ECOtality's funding expires at the end of next year, and the project requires a full-year of data collection at each location. The data, she said, would be collected by BLINK, a sophisticated network that connects all of the ECOtality meters.
Marcon said BLINK fees currently range from about $1 to $2 an hour, depending on the market but if the city partners with ECOtality, drivers likely would be able to charge their cars for free for an unspecified amount of time.