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USA: Milwaukee council panel backs east side vehicle charging station

A Milwaukee Common Council committee Wednesday endorsed setting up a charging station for electric vehicles in an east side parking lot.

If the full council agrees June 12, the station in the city-owned lot near E. Brady St. would be part of a network of five such stations that the city is establishing as a pilot program with $35,000 in federal stimulus funds. That would bring to eight the number of charging stations in Milwaukee County.

Motorists using the city-operated stations would pay for the electricity, plus overhead costs, any applicable taxes and a 1.5% markup, under the ordinance backed by the council’s Public Works Committee. They also would pay for parking at the lot between N. Arlington and N. Warren avenues.

The other four stations are being set up as partnerships, in which the city would operate the stations and receive the revenue for five years, and the property owners would take over after that, said Matt Howard, city environmental sustainability director. Two of those stations are already operating, one at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin and one in a privately owned parking garage at 735 N. Water St. Another would be at the Clarion Hotel Airport, 5311 S. Howell Ave., and talks are under way to place a station at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Howard said.

In addition to the city network, charging stations are in place at Schlitz Park and at the Milwaukee Area Technical College campuses downtown and in Oak Creek. All of the Milwaukee County charging stations are of the same design as the networks of 26 such stations in Madison, about 300 in the Chicago area and 20 in St. Paul, Minn., Howard said.

Last week, the council approved selling compressed natural gas to the public at two fueling stations built for city garbage trucks. East side Ald. Nik Kovac, sponsor of the electric charging station measure, said providing that kind of infrastructure is critical to ensuring alternative-fuel vehicles are convenient and cost-effective to use.
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