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posted: 1/25/2014 8:00 AM

New electric charging station will replace one at The Centre of Elgin

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The city of Elgin will get a new electric vehicle charging station that will remain free for now, but could come with a fee in a couple of years.

The station, which can charge two vehicles at once, will replace the current single-charge station at The Centre of Elgin.

Councilmembers voted 7-2 this week to approve the $4,838 expense.

That includes the $6,895 cost of the station, plus a reimbursement through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's electric vehicle infrastructure rebate program.

Councilmembers John Prigge and Terry Gavin cast the dissenting votes.

The new station, unlike the existing one, has the option to charge users and will be able to track usage, Elgin management analyst Aaron Cosentino said.

The city secured $1,500 in sponsorship from Judson University and $400 from Elgin Climate Change Organization, which will cover the cost of providing free electricity at the station for an estimated 2 years, Cosentino said.

Councilwoman Tish Powell pointed out that increasing the number of charging stations in Elgin is among the sustainability goals approved by the city council.

"In terms of being a need, I think there are certainly enough (electric vehicles) on the streets now, and projected to be more in the coming years."

Prigge, however, equated the charging station -- currently located near the entrance of The Centre -- to product placement.

"This whole idea is not to serve existing electric cars that are on the road today. It is a marketing plan to sell cars."

Elgin isn't the only city looking at charging for electric stations. Naperville earlier this week approved adding two charging stations that will cost users 75 cents per hour.

Cosentino proposed charging $1 per hour in Elgin when the time comes.

The Fox Valley Electric Auto Association also offered $1,070 to sponsor charging stations in Elgin, but only if they remain free, Cosentino said.

The expense will come out of the sustainability commission's annual $50,000 budget, which in turn is funded by the city's portion of Grand Victoria Casino revenues, Councilman John Steffen said.

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