Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 5, 2013

Another View: Electric vehicle charging cost to consider

In 2012, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority secured an $110,000 federal grant to install 18 electric vehicle charging stations in city owned parking lots. Over a year later, the DDA is claiming a steady demand for these stations and have a plan to double the number of these stations over the next five years. One concern that continues to be discussed with this investment in EV charging stations is who is on the hook for the electricity bill.

For 2012 through the first six months of 2013, the DDA paid over $3,800 for 29,241 kWh of electricity used, nearly double that of 2012. While this cost represents a mere sliver of the DDA’s nearly $20 million parking expense budget for 2013-14, we believe it is a cost that should be addressed in the near future by the DDA.

Dave Konkle, the DDA’s energy programs director explained that the DDA isn’t charging additional parking fees for the electricity usage because officials want to encourage more EV owners to come downtown. However, current residents and daily commuters, not outside visitors, regularly occupy a majority of these parking spots. As the managing body of downtown parking, it is the DDA’s responsibility to respond to the demand for parking accordingly. The addition of charging stations has accomplished this but at an increased cost to the city over traditional parking spaces utilized by majority of drivers.

By subsidizing the cost of electricity and station installation, the city is influencing the economics of the electric vehicle market rather than responding to the needs of the city’s parking for all drivers. We encourage the DDA to implement systems to offset the financial cost of providing this service to EV drivers before further investing in expanding the system.

Taking this proactive approach will open the door for the DDA to set a standard for other municipalities when investing in EV charging stations. Furthermore, it will prove the long-term financial viability for drivers and the city as more car buyers consider purchasing an electric vehicle.

The Ann Arbor News

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