Powell residents may get a charge out of the latest improvement planned at Village Green Park.
The city's Development Committee on Dec. 5 gave the administration approval to move ahead with the installation of four electric-vehicle charging stations in the site's parking lot off Hall Street.
Rocky Kambo, planner with the city's development department, said the effort to bring charging stations to Powell started uneventfully more than two years ago. Kambo said he sent a "random email" to Tesla Inc., asking if the California-based carmaker and technology company provides funding for cities to buy electric-vehicle charging stations.
Kambo said Tesla did have such a program and, while it has since ended, the company was willing to "grandfather" the city into it because discussions between the two sides have been ongoing. He said Tesla has agreed to purchase four charging stations -- two Tesla-brand chargers and two chargers compatible with other types of electric vehicles -- and cover the cost of their installation.
City officials estimated the project could cost about $10,000 without assistance from Tesla.
Powell Mayor Brian Lorenz, who supports the project, said he wants Powell to maintain its reputation as a forward-thinking and "green" community.
"These are (the type of) things we need to be doing now, in my opinion," he said.
While Tesla is expected to cover the purchase price and installation costs for the charging stations, the city still will see a cost from hosting the stations.
Kambo said if all four chargers were in use 24 hours per day after installation, the city's tab for electricity would increase by about $27,000 annually. He said if the chargers each are used four hours per day -- which he views as a more reasonable projection -- the city would pay about $4,500 annually for the additional electricity.
Councilman Jim Hrivnak said he has concerns about the costs.
"We're really bringing in an expense (and) we don't know what the magnitude is," he said.
Hrivnak questioned whether the city could install credit-card readers at the charging stations, but Kambo said Tesla's "one request" was that the city absorb the cost of electricity rather than passing it on to drivers.
Kambo said the city could seek sponsorship deals with local businesses or limit the hours visitors could charge their vehicles if funding becomes a concern.
Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof said he was in favor of providing the service free of charge for a year or two, then re-evaluating whether the practice is fiscally sustainable.
Kambo said he sees the project as beneficial for the city in multiple ways. He said many residents and visitors who charge their cars in front of the Powell Municipal Building likely would spend more time downtown.
"They may also get out and spend their money at local businesses," he said.
Kambo said bringing in charging stations also could "put Powell on people's maps" as an affluent and technologically advanced community. The city currently has no charging stations, which already can be found in some parts of Columbus, Dublin and at Easton Town Center, among other locations.
"This isn't a trend that's stopping," he said. "It's a trend that's growing and that's backed up by (vehicle) registrations."
The city has not announced a timeline for the installation of the charging stations.