ComEd unveils two more EV charging stations in Chicago’s South Side as part of two-year pilot project


ComEd unveiled two additional public electric-vehicle charging stations in Bronzeville Thursday morning, the final stations to be installed as part of a two-year pilot project aimed at increasing charging availability for communities with limited access.

The two charging stations installed Thursday in the parking lot of the Illinois Eye Institute, 3241 S. Michigan Ave., join three others in the area — one near 43rd Street and Calumet Avenue and two others in the parking lot of the 1700 East 56th St. Condominium Association.

The $3 million pilot project launched in 2022 in partnership with the Department of Energy and was part of a larger nationwide study designed to better understand how to serve low-income communities with higher concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2022, the Bronzeville stations have served almost 300 drivers and provided more than 2,800 charging sessions, according to ComEd officials.

“That tells you that even though the penetration of EVs have not reached the peak of where we know it’s headed, that tells you the demand is there,” Melissa Washington, senior vice president of customer operations and strategy at ComEd, said Thursday. “Having EVs on the road will benefit everybody, not just those that are driving. Because when you think about the communities that we’re looking to place these charging units, those are also the locations that might have a high concentration of greenhouse gas emissions. The entire goal is to not only help slow down the impact of climate change, but also to reduce the pollution in the communities.”

As of May 2023, half of Chicago neighborhoods didn’t have public charging stations with many of these “charging deserts” in predominantly Black and Latino communities.

In 2016, ComEd selected Bronzeville as one of its communities of the future, with the goal of turning the neighborhood into a “smart community.” In addition to the five electric-vehicle charging stations, the utility company says it is also working to make the neighborhood its first solar-powered microgrid, meaning the community would be energy-independent from the rest of the city and could provide backup power if needed.

“Bronzeville has emerged as somewhat of a living lab, an epicenter of new energy technologies,” Billy Davis of Jitney EV and the Bronzeville Community of the Future Advisory Council said Thursday.

“Whenever we see examples of visible EV charging infrastructure in the community, it helps to alleviate the range anxiety that discourages some people from making a transition and encourages people away from dirty combustible engines.”

ComEd officials said the South Side charging stations also play a key role in supporting goals outlined in the state’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which includes having 1 million electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030.

Earlier this year, ComEd began offering about $90 million in rebates across various programs. About $57 million in rebates were made available to businesses, city or other government applicants looking to swap out older diesel-fueled fleets with electric models. Another $30 million was reserved for expanding the state’s network of charging stations.

Residential customers can now apply for rebates of up to $3,750 to offset the costs of purchasing and installing chargers at their homes.

As of January, Illinois had almost 94,000 registered electric vehicles, including almost 17,000 in Chicago.


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