Reynoldsburg could greenlight three electric-vehicle charging stations at public parking lots, using more than $100,000 in grant funds to help cover related costs.

City Council heard the first reading Oct. 28 of an ordinance that, if approved, would authorize Reynoldsburg to install the charging stations using an AEP Ohio incentive program that would cover up to 100% of the estimated $183,336 cost.

According to an "incentive reservation" letter from AEP to the city, Reynoldsburg has been approved for funding through AEP Ohio's Commercial Electric-Vehicle Charging Station Incentive, a $10 million program launched last year to fund up to 375 EV charging stations throughout the AEP Ohio service territory.

The city's plans call for installing two charging stations at the community-center YMCA, currently under construction on Davidson Drive, and one at the newly opened public parking lot at the northwest corner of East Main Street and Lancaster Avenue, development director Andrew Bowsher said.

Under the terms of the AEP program, the city would cover the upfront costs of wiring and installing the charging stations and then would apply for reimbursement once they are operational, he said. The AEP program includes a four-year service contract with Dublin-based EV United/ChargePoint to install and maintain the charging stations.

Each EV station unit costs about $40,000, Bowsher said.

The maintenance is about an extra 20%, included in the $183,336 cost; also included is the processing of credit cards, which is how users pay in a process similar to a parking meter.

Drivers would pay the current rate for the electricity they use to charge their vehicles, Bowsher said.

While the terms of the AEP agreement allow the city to charge users of the EV stations more in order to cover costs, he said Reynoldsburg doesn't plan to pass along any fees.

"The city will not look to make additional funds from our first stations," Bowsher said.

"We want them to be as inexpensive while utilized as much as possible," Bowsher said. "We will be utilizing these as a beta test for the city while gauging community use."

There are more than 150 public charging stations in the greater Columbus area but only about four in Reynoldsburg, according to PlugShare, a website that tracks EV charging-station locations nationwide. All those in or near Reynoldsburg are at such businesses as banks, hotels and car dealerships.

EV sales accounted for 2.34% of all vehicles sold in central Ohio in the fourth quarter of 2018, topping the 2% mark for the first time, according to Smart Columbus, the "smart city initiative" for the Columbus region. From the first quarter of 2017 through the end of 2018, new electric-vehicle registrations in the Columbus region increased by 121%, outpacing an 82% expansion in the Midwest and 95% growth across the U.S. overall, according to the initative.

The charging stations are one of the ways Reynoldsburg is "continuing to chip away at initiatives set forth by MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) and the Sustainable2050 plan," Bowsher said. "The city in the next few years hopes to qualify ... as a top-tier sustainable city."

The Sustainable2050 plan aims to encourage and track municipalities' adoption of environmentally friendly practices such as reducing energy consumption, protecting natural resources and using "green" initiatives to spur economic development, according to MORPC.

The EV program would require the city to operate the charging stations for at least four years and share data about their use with AEP Ohio. The city would own the equipment and after four years, could relocate the chargers or remove them altogether if they are not used, Bowsher said.

Council is expected to vote on the plans for the charging stations next month. If approved, the stations would likely be installed within a few months, Bowsher said.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

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