New Albany approves vehicle-charging-station project

SARAH SOLE
ssole@thisweeknews.com
This electric-vehicle charging station is at AEP Ohio's Gahanna headquarters. New Albany City Council has approved a plan to install two charging stations at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, 150 W. Main St., by this fall.

New Albany residents are expected to have access to two electric-vehicle-charging stations in the city by this fall.

New Albany City Council on July 7 voted 6-0 to approve a resolution authorizing City Manager Joe Stefanov to enter into an agreement and contracts with AEP Ohio for the project. Council member Chip Fellows was absent.

The two charging stations will be behind the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, 150 W. Main St., near Rose Run Park.

They should be installed by fall, city spokesman Scott McAfee said.

City staff members earlier this year had applied to AEP Ohio for its program to reduce carbon footprints and support sustainability, McAfee said. The program requires charging stations to be installed by AEP Ohio on municipally owned property, according to a council legislative report.

An original resolution had proposed four stations in two locations, but council members in June had decided to eliminate two stations proposed for the parking lot in front of the city’s public-services department building, 7800 Bevelhymer Road, because of concerns about low traffic in the area.

After the stations behind the Heit Center are installed, the city will receive a rebate covering most of the cost, McAfee said. That cost includes a five-year technology-maintenance agreement.

The upfront cost is up to $150,000, leaving a local match not to exceed $6,000, according to the legislative report. The city will be reimbursed for about $144,000, the report said.

The location for the stations was chosen based on City Council feedback, and payment for charging vehicles would be done via a credit-card-based system, Stefanov said.

The city has not established pricing for using the stations, McAfee said.

“We will reach out to local communities that are further along in the process to find out what they charge and make a recommendation to council,” he said.

The city will use the ChargePoint app for using the charging stations, McAfee said. The app includes options for making reservations and virtually waiting in line, he said.

Mark Berndt, director of business development for AEP Ohio, said the pilot program was approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in 2018 as a four-year program and will run through summer 2022.

AEP Ohio was approved to deploy $9.5 million over four years in electric-vehicle-charging stations, Berndt said. The money is expected to fund 75 DC charging stations, as well as 300 stations that are less powerful, called “level 2” charging stations, he said.

The program is designed so that such customers as the city of New Albany can apply to the program and, once approved, build the stations, Berndt said. After the stations are built, the customers get reimbursed for the costs via rebates, he said.

AEP Ohio has different levels of cost reimbursement based on the type of customer, such as a municipality, a business or an apartment complex, he said.

Berndt said the $9.5 million in funding has been “largely fully subscribed,” meaning that enough customers have been approved to participate in the program that the funding will be allocated via rebates to customers after the charging stations are built.

The program is designed to collect statistics on how often a charging station is used, Berndt said, although personal data of station users will not be collected.

Many other cities in central Ohio are participating in the program, he said, as well as private companies, stores and restaurants.

“The program’s been a real success from our standpoint,” he said.

In other business July 7, council:

• Voted 6-0 to approve a motion in support of Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate for Franklin County that was announced July 7, extending the motion to include the portion of New Albany in Licking County.

• Voted 6-0 to schedule a special meeting Tuesday, July 14, to discuss possible legislation regarding mask usage in the city.

• Voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance to adopt the tax budget for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021.

According to the legislative report, the projected general-fund revenue for the 2021 tax budget is $23,521,651, a decrease from 2019 actual revenue of $25,632,638 and 2020 estimated revenue of $23,579,196.

The main component affecting the estimates is income-tax revenue, which city leaders believe will continue to be affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus into 2021, according to the legislative report.

Funding estimates are conservative, said finance director Bethany Staats.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah