Fairfield considering new electric car charging stations, but is the spot right?

Fairfield is applying for an Ohio EPA grant to install an electric charging station at the Community Arts Center on Wessel Drive. The grant is due Sept. 30, 2020, and is part of the Volkswagen mitigation settlement where the automaker installed “defeat devices” on hundreds of thousands of vehicles that resulted in the release of nine to 40 times allowable pollution into the environment. Pictured is a charging station at Liberty Center in Liberty Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
Fairfield is applying for an Ohio EPA grant to install an electric charging station at the Community Arts Center on Wessel Drive. The grant is due Sept. 30, 2020, and is part of the Volkswagen mitigation settlement where the automaker installed “defeat devices” on hundreds of thousands of vehicles that resulted in the release of nine to 40 times allowable pollution into the environment. Pictured is a charging station at Liberty Center in Liberty Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

FAIRFIELD — City Council is seeking to install a dual charging station for electric cars at the Community Arts Center, but not all support the idea.

Council voted 5-1 to seek a state grant to fund two single-port chargers that would be installed at the arts center’s parking lot in the northeast corner.

Councilman Terry Senger, who supports the city’s push for environmental sustainability, voted against the grant request because of the location . Councilman Dale Paullus was absent from the meeting.

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“My opposition to this particular project is locating the charging stations in the parking lot of the CAC. It’s the only reason," he said. “I just think we need to find a better location for it than that.”

Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling said the CAC was chosen because it meets the criteria for which the application will be scored.

“The goal of the program is to provide publicly accessible charging stations within a quarter-mile of a major route that’s within a business district,” he said. “Such proximity has dual purpose of being attractive to consumers while also providing extra foot traffic to local businesses and venues.”

The CAC is a well-lit and safe location that’s near the heavily traveled Pleasant Avenue, or U.S. 127, he said. The draw on the CAC’s electrical panel is “minimal,” he said.

The funding would come from an Ohio Department of Transportation grant funded through the multi-billion-dollar Volkswagen settlement.

Ohio received $75 million of the nearly $15 billion settlement after the automaker was accused by the U.S. Justice Department of cheating federal emission standards. Of that, $11.25 million is designated for electric vehicle charging stations.

There are a few electric vehicle charging stations around Butler and Warren counties, including at Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe and IKEA in West Chester Twp. California leads the nation with more than 4,000 stations, according to a Pew Research Center report.

When the idea was first presented, City Councilman Tim Abbott said he had reservations with the proposed location, but he is now comfortable.

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“The technology’s coming if we like it or not,” he said.

Abbott, who is the director of government and community relations at Duke Energy, said charging stations will soon populate the landscape and his company alone is planning to install up to 500 charging stations around the state.

“(Duke Energy is) going to convert 10,000 of our light-duty trucks over the next five years to electric technology, and the public needs to get out in front of it like we are to promote the technology,” he said.

Dill said last month the proposed $115,000 grant doesn’t require a local match, Fairfield will pay for site preparation and running electric to the proposed site.