Pickerington seeks grant to create electric-vehicles charging station

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
This electric-vehicle charging station is at AEP Ohio's Gahanna headquarters. Pickerington City Council has approved seeking a grant to help fund the installation a local station to charge up to four vehicles at a time.

The city of Pickerington is seeking a state grant to help offset costs for an electric-vehicle charging station to charge up to four vehicles at once.

Pickerington does not have any electronic vehicles in its fleet.

However, city officials said they recognize it might make financial and environmental sense for at least some municipal vehicles -- both those used by city staff members and police personnel -- to be powered by electricity from off-vehicle sources, such as a charging station or by self-contained rechargeable batteries, solar panels, fuel cells or generators.

Further, they said, they have noted the popularity of electric vehicles is likely to increase among residents.

As a result, and because the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is offering grants for charging stations to communities in 26 "priority counties," City Manager Greg Butcher and Pickerington City Council members are moving forward with a plan to apply for a $30,000 grant that would help purchase a charging station.

"One station is being applied for as part of an Ohio EPA grant program," Butcher said. "The station will have four plugs.

"The city believes that electric vehicles will only grow in number, and at this early stage of consumer adoption, there is a need for more public-charging-station infrastructure."

Butcher said the total cost of a charging station is "less than $45,000," and a grant covering most of the costs is "a low-risk way to install this new technology and evaluate consumer use within the city of Pickerington."

City Council supported the move, voting 7-0 Sept. 1 to apply for the grant.

"I'm hoping we can review our zoning code to ensure we have a process to permit charging stations in the future," said council Vice President Tony Barletta. "People are using electric vehicles, and more will in the future. We can get a grant and (financial) support without taxpayer expense, so why not?

"Some day, a business may look at a charging station as a competitive advantage and we should be ready to support them."

The Ohio EPA is able to offer the grants as part of a Diesel Mitigation Trust Fund program aimed at increasing the use of electric vehicles and reducing petroleum-based fuel consumption, "thereby, mitigating nitrogen oxides and decreasing particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions in Ohio," according to the charging-station grant application.

The grant available to Pickerington would be funded through $3.25 million the Ohio EPA received from a lawsuit settlement with Volkswagen after the company was found to have violated air pollution standards set forth in the federal Clean Air Act.

Butcher said if the city receives the grant, a charging station likely would be installed in the downtown municipal parking lot on Town Square Drive. The lot, also listed as 89 N. Center St., is where the local farmers market is held.

It would be installed in 2021, he said.

It would be available to the public, but users would pay for the electricity they use. In addition to preparing for the "growing number of electric vehicles" and supporting "economic development for downtown" Pickerington, Butcher said, the station -- and potentially additional stations -- also could serve the city.

"We are still evaluating the potential for city-owned electric vehicles," he said. "Unmarked police department vehicles may make the most sense, followed by other fleet vehicles.

"Budget year 2022 would probably be the soonest for the potential addition of those."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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