Archive for Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shawnee turns down electric vehicle charging stations

May 31, 2015

— The Shawnee City Council decided that they would rather see private businesses and companies make the push to install electric vehicle charging stations around town, rather than have tax payers front the costs for two years.

The decision Tuesday to turn away Kansas City Power & Light, who wanted to install 10 charging stations at city facilities around Shawnee east of Interstate 435, was made after a lengthy debate about the issue.

KCP&L had approached the city to install the charging stations for no cost to the city at locations including the city's justice center, the Civic Centre and City Hall. The city, however, would have been required to pay for the electricity used at each location for two years, which could have totaled $4,000 per year.

Most of the council agreed that the city shouldn't pay for something that will start happening around town naturally through the private sector. Electric vehicle charging stations are already in the works in Shawnee at the Shawnee Hy-Vee, the Mill Creek Shopping Center and at Tomahawk Hills Golf Club, and most of the council agreed that private businesses would be better served installing their own stations rather than the city installing them on city property.

"On city property, there isn’t a lot of things people can do while they get their car charged," said Councilman Mickey Sandifer. "There are companies out there that will spend the money to draw the customers into their establishments."

Representatives from KCP&L told the council that they wanted to create a grid around the entire Kansas City metro for electric car owners to feel confident in their ability to jump from charging station to charging station around town to charge up for brief periods of time. They explained that the two-year period that the city would pay for the electricity would allow the company time to develop a payment plan for electric vehicle owners and, after those two years, the private owners would pay for their own electricity.

Even so, the Shawnee City Council seemed to agree that the best place to do that wouldn't be at City Hall or the Justice Center.

"If I have the option of charging while I go watch a movie or at City Hall, I know which one people would rather choose," said Council member Stephanie Meyer.

Council members Jeff Vaught and jim Neighbor were the only two voices on the council who expressed interest in the idea. However, Neighbor eventually and successfully motioned that the council readdress the issue in one year when electric vehicle charging technology advances and becomes more prevalent.

"I think this idea and concept is coming," Neighbor said. "Is it a huge need right here right now? Maybe not, but if (the charging stations) are there, people will know it and they will use them."

Vaught was entirely in favor of installing the charging stations on city property because of the opportunities it opened up for the city to eventually purchase electric vehicles for staff.

"Do we want to be a forward-thinking city or the last ones on the block?" Vaught asked the council. "The reality is we could probably have electric vehicles in our fleet pretty quickly.

"Forward thinking starts right here, it starts with our government."

Vaught argued that KCP&L would be installing the charging stations at no cost to the city when it would cost the city $10,000 per station to install them without the proposed agreement.

Eventually, the council agreed to table the issue for a year with a 6-2 vote.

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