14 more suburbs, DuPage County join program to become 'EV ready'

Building on an existing collaboration, over a dozen municipalities are working with ComEd to develop electric vehicle-friendly policy as part of an EV readiness program launched last year, the electric utility company and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus announced Wednesday.

The 15 local governments - which include those of Batavia, Elgin and Highland Park, as well as DuPage County - will receive training programs and technical assistance to prepare for a growing demand for EVs and charging infrastructure.

Organizers say developing local, EV-minded policy is vital in preparing for both residents and potential visitors who drive electric.

"We recognize the road ahead is not ideally mapped, nor precisely mapped just yet, but exploring and sharing these routes together through the twists and turns, and dare I say even potholes we no doubt will encounter along the way, will help advance and ultimately achieve an important and impactful goal of climate action," said Mayor Kevin Burns of Geneva.

Burns leads the Environment Committee of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, which is a membership organization of 275 cities, towns and villages that developed a Climate Action Plan for the Chicago area last year - one of the first regional climate plans in the nation.

Developed by the caucus over the course of nearly three years, the EV readiness program helps guide cities and towns toward completing a checklist of steps that will better prepare them to support electric vehicles.

The checklist consists of more than 100 actions. As they complete the goals, municipalities will be awarded the distinctions of bronze, silver or gold EV readiness.

The newly announced communities join a pilot cohort that first began the program in December. The original group, which will soon graduate to the status of "EV ready," includes Aurora, Chicago, Deer Park, Geneva, Hampshire and Skokie, as well as Kane County.

"Having a checklist in place of things that we could follow just really helps us from having to reinvent the wheel on our own," said Brad Maggi, Skokie operations manager.

The checklist covers areas such as municipal vehicles, zoning and planning, EV owner rights and access to parking. The tasks range from making sure there's an electric vehicle landing page at a community's website to updating local permitting and inspection regulations to make sure they're conducive to installing chargers.

Maggi said since Skokie began tackling the checklist in December, the village experienced a 50% increase in its number of registered electric vehicles - from about 460 to 700.

In the South suburbs, University Park Village Manager Elizabeth Scott said coordinating with other municipalities and sharing knowledge has been a key resource in preparing for more EVs.

She added that creating EV readiness in University Park is especially important when thinking about the transition from an environmental justice lens.

"When you look at the demographics of charging stations and where they're located, they tend to be located in more affluent communities," she said. "For communities that don't necessarily have a lot of resources, it's important for us to also be included in that conversation and have a seat at the table, because Governor Pritzker has really innovative legislation compared to other parts of the country, and to reach his vision of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road in the next several years, we have to have a buy-in from everybody."

ComEd also announced Wednesday a new EV charging delivery rate option for nonresidential customers with EV charging.

Available beginning in September, the rate option is designed as an incentive to investing in charging infrastructure by providing businesses with a cost-effective alternative to demand-based delivery rates.

Rather than the current design, in which rates are based on the highest demand for electricity usage over a certain period, the new option will be a volumetric charge where customers pay by the kilowatt hour.

Philip Roy, the director of external affairs at ComEd, said the rate design is meant to tackle barriers to early EV adoption, primarily charging availability and charging economics.

One issue is the cost that charging providers incur, especially in the early stages of the market when their chargers are not going to be used so much yet.

"That kind of creates this chicken and egg conundrum that I think a lot of states and cities are dealing with," Roy said. "You want to make sure that you're enabling the transition to electrification; you know that you need charging to increase confidence and for businesses and individual customers to purchase electric vehicles. But at the same time, there are barriers to charging providers, municipalities, anybody deploying that charging in the early stages of the market, because the costs can be high."

• Jenny Whidden is a climate change and environment writer working with the Daily Herald through a partnership with Report For America supported by The Nature Conservancy. To help support her work with a tax-deductible donation, see

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