City of Janesville eyes user fee for its public EV charging stations



|By Neil Johnson, reporter/anchor, Big Radio News |

Unless a pending state bill upends the idea, the city of Janesville could start charging a user fee for its city-owned electric vehicle charging stations downtown.

Operations director Maggie Darr told the Sustainable Janesville Committee on Tuesday she’d like to hand the city council a proposed user fee of $1 per hour for the city’s four public EV charging stations located at the downtown parking deck along North Parker Drive.

The city has never charged a user fee for its EV stations, which have been in place five years. Darr says since 2018, the four EV chargers have seen a 70-percent increase in use.

Darr says a nominal hourly fee, which would be charged through the third party ChargePoint app, would help the city recoup the roughly $3,000 it spends a year to maintain and operate the chargers.

ChargePoint is the company that runs the charging stations. It charges the city software subscription and maintenance fees under an agreement.

Darr says fees could be structured so they’d ramp up after a vehicle is fully charged. That’s a common practice sometimes used for privately owned and operated charging stations. It’s meant to curb people hogging the stations for hours beyond the time they’d actually need to charge up.

Other charging stations in Janesville, such as the EV stations at Woodman’s Food Market and Hy-Vee, are privately owned, and would not be part of the city’s look into user fees.

Darr says the city of La Crosse charges a small hourly user fee on its public EV charging stations, which is currently legal under state law. But there’s a chance the law could change.

Darr says she’d make no proposal if state lawmakers OK a bill now being vetted that would bar municipalities from charging fees at publicly-owned EV stations.

In that case, Darr says the city might pivot and look into possible grants or public private partnerships to offset costs the city carries on its EV chargers.

The city is considering putting new EV charging stations at the proposed Woodman’s Sports & Convention Center.

But Darr says without some kind of a long-term cost-recovery plan in place, it’s unlikely the city would make any aggressive moves to expand the number of charging stations it owns and operates.


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