Several central Ohio suburbs are offering or planning to provide owners of electric vehicles a place to plug in while navigating the issue of what to charge, if anything, for that power.
In Gahanna, City Council is expected to continue discussion in April whether to charge those owners for powering up.
Grant Crawford, Gahanna's director of public service and engineering, said an American Electric Power grant is providing funds for five charging stations including one at Friendship Park, 150 Oklahoma Ave.; one at the Gahanna Golf Course, 220 Olde Ridenour Road; one at Hannah Park, 6547 Clark State Road; one at City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road; and one at the municipal lot at Town and North High streets. He said there are two plug-ins per unit.
Carrin Wester, Gahanna's communications manager, said the charging stations most likely wouldn't be fully installed until this summer.
Crawford said Gahanna has a desire to promote green infrastructure -- storm detention, LED streetlights, street improvements and electric-vehicle charging stations -- and in conjunction with Sustainable 2050, this is one of those check marks. He said adding the charging stations would help make Gahanna a destination, making it possible for electric-vehicle owners to stop, shop, get a bite to eat or play golf at the municipal golf course while promoting development and green initiatives.
Michael Schnetzer, Ward 2 council representative, said during a Feb. 24 committee meeting that electricity is equal to fuel in this case.
From a fairness side, he said, it seems more equitable that there be some sort of charge for the fuel as opposed to it being completely funded by Gahanna taxpayers.
Stephen Renner, Ward 1 council representative, said hybrid cars are a different category.
"These are for anything that has a battery that requires a plug," he said. "We talk about and deliberate on the topic of how to draw and attract more people to the city, and there is a growing demographic of people who drive electric cars, and they are looking for places to plug in."
He said Easton Town Center has more than 10 chargers for free use and those officials understand fully the idea of providing them for their shoppers.
"There are other municipalities that have EV charging stations; however, we need to determine what is best for our community," Wester said. "We are excited about this opportunity for our residents. We want to make sure that this program is rolled out to our community in a responsible and sustainable manner."
Because Westerville owns and operates its electric distribution system, the city can't take advantage of the grant offered by AEP like Gahanna and some other suburbs, said Chris Monacelli, Westerville's electric-utility manager.
"Instead we created a program for Westerville businesses that is very similar, called PowerUp," he said. "In short, it is a rebate program to incentivize a business to install charging stations. Because the business owns the station, they can choose to charge for usage, or not. So far, since the program launched last year, there have been a total of eight ports installed with eight more in development."
Monacelli said Westerville has two city-owned stations, each with dual charging ports, one at 64 E. Walnut St. (near the library) and one at 139 E Broadway Ave.
"These were designed and installed as fleet chargers for the two all-electric Nissan Leafs the city added to its fleet in 2018, so there is no charge to use them."
He said the charging stations are on public lots, and they are used by the public.
"This has allowed us to study the use and help determine the demand for future expansion," Monacelli said.
PlugShare is a good resource for information on charging stations and offers a nice visual of charging stations in Westerville and across central Ohio, according to Monacelli.
Anne Brown, Worthington's public-information officer, said the city recently had two electric-vehicle charging stations installed using funds from the AEP Ohio rebate program.
The two new ChargePoint Express 250 direct-current fast chargers are equipped with CHAdeMO and CCS1 cables and are available to residents, employers and visitors. The charging locations are in Old Worthington at 44 W. New England Ave. and the Worthington Community Center, 345 E. Wilson Bridge Road.
David McCorkle, Worthington's economic-development director, said customers are charged 10 cents per minute for the first 30 minutes and then 20 cents per minute thereafter.
"Ultimately, our price model was set to break even. That is, we want our revenues collected from users to equal our cost of electricity (plus the 10% ChargePoint fee that is included)," he said.
McCorkle said Worthington's stations have been active since only February, so the city isn't sure if the current price is at the breakeven point.
"The city will review the first electric bill and then adjust the pricing as necessary to reach that 'break even' point," he said.
For more information about Worthington's stations, go to worthington.org/1930/EV-Chargers.