City Hall

Before Signing Off On EV Charging Stations, the Council Breaks Down Cost of Plugging In

On Monday the council's Transportation and Environment Committee took up the subject of setting up electric vehicle charging stations at several city facilities, including City Hall and the downtown central library. For the most part the committee was on board with the initiative, which includes putting three electric trucks in the city's garage, but there was some skepticism concerning San Francisco-based ECOtality's offer to install those stations at Love Field, Dallas Executive Airport and Fair Park. Some council members wondered: How much will it cost the city to charge drivers' electric rides? Because, far as they were concerned, that was like giving away gas.

Some on the council were under the impression it could run as high as $40,000. But moments ago, Errick Thompson, director of Equipment and Building Services, told the council he went back and did the math, looking at 170 stations in use across the country, and after he put pencil to paper he'd come up with a cost of ... $1,400. And only $400 will come out of the general fund, since Aviation will pick up the tab for the airport charging stations. Said Mark Duebner, director of Aviation,

the Love Field parking garage is a "revenue generator," so having the stations installed there "gives us an additional amenity that might draw folks to the airport."

Ann Margolin was initially skeptical of Thompson's math: "It was shown the cost of the electricity would be $43,000, and now we're showing it's $400?" Her tone suggested she wasn't going to sign off on the offer.

Margolin asked: "What is the cost of filling a car with electricity. I just can't imagine how the cost is this low." Thompson told her "actual usage" is somewhere around "less than $2" per car.

Sandy Greyson wondered: "How long does it take to charge up an electric vehicle .. an average amount of time?" Thompson told her, oh, about four, eight hours if you're driving a Leaf or a Volt.  "I am just curious, taking that length of time," said Greyson, "what are people doing while their car is charging up?" Thompson reminded her: Drivers probably wouldn't be pulling for a full charge. And, besides, "This is a quicker charging station than you might have at your home." She remained wary: "It doesn't seem to equate to me. That number doesn't add up to me."

But Mayor Mike spoke up, his request hinting at how the vote would go: "It'd be great if in the first three months you can come back and say, 'This is what we think it's costing us.'" And with that the vote was taken, all in favor.

After that there was yet another impromptu -- and very lengthy -- discussion about who in this city gets flooded and why. I'll let Schutze handle that one.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky