Why EV charging could soon cost more in Des Plaines

People who drive electric vehicles soon could have to pay a little more to charge them in Des Plaines.

The city council this week tentatively approved a new fee formula for city-owned charging stations. A final vote is expected at the council’s March 18 meeting.

The city owns one dual-port electric vehicle charging station, in a parking lot at Ellinwood Avenue and Lee Street. Using the station costs 50 cents per hour.

That rate doesn’t cover the city’s electricity costs, service fees and maintenance costs, resulting in a loss of a few hundred dollars annually, Assistant Public Works and Engineering Director Timothy Watkins said Wednesday.

The proposed new rate is based on the supplier’s rate, with service and administrative fees added on. And rather than charging people based on the amount of time their cars are plugged in, the machines will compute fees based on kilowatt-hours of energy used.

The kilowatt-hour is a unit of measurement commonly used by electric utility companies to determine bills. One kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy used to keep a 1,000-watt appliance running for one hour.

Based on the city’s current electricity rate, the new charging fee would be 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, documents indicate. That will allow the city to break even on the machine’s use, Watkins said Wednesday.

“The rate only covers ongoing maintenance costs,” Watkins said. “There is no profit to the city.”

More city-owned vehicle chargers are planned, most likely in the parking garage on Lee Street near city hall and the police station, Watkins said.

The proposed change was included on the consent agenda for Monday’s meeting, which is reserved for routine matters. There was no public discussion of the plan.

A video of Monday’s meeting can be found online at

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