Thursday, June 11, 2015

City of Grandview Considering Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

By Paul Thompson

The Grandview Board of Aldermen is considering a proposal from KCP&L that would bring electric vehicle charging stations to the city.

Michael Jackson and David Sutphin of KCP&L were invited to the Tuesday, June 2 work session to discuss a potential partnership with the City of Grandview that would provide a handful of public charging stations for the benefit of area residents. KCP&L would install the stations at no cost, but the city would be required to agree to a two-year service contract. During that time, the city would be responsible for paying electricity charges related to the charging stations, a cost estimated at $400 annually per unit.

“We’re trying to put the infrastructure in place, so that hopefully electric vehicles will follow,” said Sutphin. “There are about 1,900 electric vehicles across Kansas and Missouri. It’s kind of a Field of Dreams situation: If you build it, they will come.”

The energy company is hoping to install more than 1,000 charging stations within their coverage area, which includes some 900,000 people. Eventually, KCP&L expects to pass off the electricity costs to consumers, but the company will first need some time to set up and approve a pay-at-the-pump mechanism.

“We’ve asked for two years, because we don’t know how long it will take to hopefully get a tariff in place,” said Sutphin. “We don’t have a payment platform or tariff in place to be able to do that yet.”

Sutphin informed the board that the charging stations installed in Grandview would take 3-4 hours to get a complete charge. While KCP&L knows that it’s unlikely a citizen will gain a full charge while at city-owned properties like The View community center or the John Anderson splash park, Sutphin said the charging stations will help curb “range anxiety” for those who own battery-powered vehicles.

“When you go places, it’s nice to have some place to plug it in to maintain your charge,” he said.

Ward III Alderman Jim Crain conveyed reservations about the proposal, listing already-cramped parking at city facilities such as City Hall, the initial two-year agreement funded by the city, and the lack of electric cars on the roadways as his biggest concerns.

Jackson acknowledged that some companies are moving away from purely electric vehicles, but argued that it isn’t likely to stay that way for long.

“You’re right, they’re not manufacturing right now. Gas prices have come down enough that gas-engine cars are still a big part of their market,” said Jackson. “When it gets back to $3.00, $3.50, then of course people start thinking differently.”

Ward II Alderman Brian Hochstein spoke up in favor of installing charging stations, pointing to Tesla’s recent investments in electric cars as a sign of where transportation is headed in the future.

“Tesla is working on a network that’s going to connect the whole United States,” he said. “I think (supporting) three stations sends a couple of messages. For the costs I’m seeing, I’m all for it.”
The board did not make a decision on the proposal during the work session.

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