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updated: 1/22/2014 6:13 PM

Naperville expanding number of charging stations for electric cars

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  • Naperville is expanding the number of charging stations it offers for electric cars, but also plans to start charging a fee for their use.

       Naperville is expanding the number of charging stations it offers for electric cars, but also plans to start charging a fee for their use.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

Drivers of electric vehicles soon will have three more places to get a charge in downtown Naperville -- but at a price.

The city council on Tuesday night approved the $3,744 purchase of two new charging stations that each can refuel two electric vehicles at a time. The move will increase the number of downtown charging locations for electric vehicles in need of juice from one to four. But getting charged up no longer will be free.

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Drivers who park in the charging spots will be billed 75 cents for each hour and must pay by swiping a credit card.

Council member Robert Fieseler, who drives an electric Chevy Volt, said he supports the additional charging stations, but asked why the number of available locations will not increase to five.

Karyn Robles, transportation and planning team leader, said it's because the two new dual-vehicle chargers will replace the one that has been operating in the Van Buren Avenue parking lot since October 2012. That charger only has capacity to serve one car at a time and lacks the technology to accept payment or network with the newer units, Robles said. So the city is keeping it in storage and evaluating whether it should be set up somewhere else.

During a yearlong trial of offering free charges for electric vehicles at one parking spot in the Van Buren Avenue lot, drivers charged vehicles 655 times. Providing the free power cost the city $351.

The city expects to bring in about $1,500 this year once it begins collecting payment for charges. That funding -- along with $15,000 in grants the city anticipates it will receive from the state -- will help offset the chargers' purchase price and expected $21,300 maintenance cost, bringing the total project's price down to $8,544 for this year.

The four charging locations will be divided evenly, with two in the Van Buren parking deck and two in the city's surface parking lot on the same street.

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