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Naperville looks at adding electric vehicle charging stations

Elaine Diveley of Naperville demonstrates how to plug in her Chevy Volt at the charging station in downtown Naperville. (Melissa Jenco, Tribune photo / October 9, 2012)

Naperville residents may soon see a surge in the number of electric vehicle charging stations around town.

The city is exploring a partnership with ECOtality’s EV Project, which would provide free stations as well as a subsidy to cover a portion of the installation costs.

Caitlin Marcon, project manager for Naperville, said charging stations would boost the city’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and also benefit area businesses.

“We’re trying to entice vehicle owners around the region to come to our downtown and plug in, shop and dine,” she said.

ECOtality, which is working with the Blink Network, has been awarded about $115 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to set up charging stations around the country and doubled that amount with matching funds from partners.

Through the project, ECOtality has now set up electric vehicle charging stations in nine states and is in the process of collecting data on drivers’ charging habits, according to spokeswoman Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen, It recently reached 1 million plug-ins and 40 million miles of data and estimates gas savings of 1.7 million gallons.

The EV Project just recently entered the Chicagoland market, and Marcon said Naperville seems like a good fit for a partnership. She is sending project officials a list of possible sites for chargers and said ideal spots are typically populated areas like the downtown area, train stations and libraries.

The city also plans to talk to private property owners such as colleges and major employers that may be interested in hosting chargers.

Through the EV Project, the city would receive free charging stations that otherwise would cost several thousand dollars each, Marcon said. The city would pay about $6,000 per unit for installation, down from $7,000.


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