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USA: Council plugs into plan for charging stations

by Carley Dryden | 0 comments

The Manhattan Beach City Council gave its support Tuesday night to provide public electric vehicle charging stations in town and directed staff to hammer out how many and where they should be located.

The council encouraged staff to pursue a grant that would provide seven stations in the underground Civic Center parking garage.

The city still has seven outlets available for charging stations in that location, left over from its one-year lease of electric Mini Coopers in 2010. BMW provided charging stations with the cars, but removed the stations after the one-year pilot.

Neighboring Hermosa Beach is currently in its first year of providing free public charging stations on Pier Avenue and in the City Hall parking lot. After the two-year pilot, which ends in May 2014, they will charge a $1 per hour fee, according to staff.

Santa Monica provides 20 free charging stations throughout the city, and EVs are allowed priority parking in any metered space in the city without charge.

City Councilwoman Amy Howorth said local government has a role to play — incentivizing people to buy electric vehicles (EVs) and reduce dependence on petroleum.

“Our goal is to provide reasons for people to do that,” she said. “Free parking is one.”

City staff estimate that on average, the lost revenue to the city at each charging station is $1 per hour if the stations are installed in a space that is currently metered. The cost of power is estimated at 40 cents per hour, and the maintenance cost is estimated at 30 cents per hour.

The total cost per station ranges from $1,750 to $16,000 depending on the site and system selected, said Sona Kalapura, the city’s environmental programs manager.

There are several grants available for EV stations, or the city could cover the cost with user fees, the general fund or parking fund, Kalapura said.

One resident has offered to donate a station if it is available to the public, she said.

“The EVs are coming, no question about it. Is there a need to get a revenue stream from them in the beginning? That’s a decision you need to make,” said Len Fein, business operations manager for Clipper Creek, which made the stations used in Santa Monica and the ones used by the city for the Mini Cooper lease. “To get people to buy them … they don’t need obstacles in their way.”

A couple of residents, including staunch environmental advocate Lillian Light, said installing the stations would give the city and its businesses a revenue boost.

“While they’re waiting for their car to be charged, visitors will likely shop here and eat at our restaurants,” Light said.

Although staff has focused its research on short-term charging stations — targeted to those who would charge their car while they are at lunch or running an errand — Councilman Nick Tell noted the benefits of a long-term station.

An EV purchase would be difficult for those living in multi-family units, he said, since they would have no place to charge it; most apartment complexes do not provide or allow residents to put in a charging station.


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