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Electric Avenue: Brighton Approves Car-Charging Stations

City Council takes another step toward installing new technology in downtown lots.

Visitors to downtown Brighton will likely soon be able to "plug in" while they shop or dine. Brighton City Council is taking steps to score three federally funded electric car-charging stations for downtown parking lots. 

Council voted unanimously at its Thursday meeting to pursue an agreement with ChargePoint America to obtain the charging stations under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Sponsored by Coulomb Technologies of Campbell, CA, the grant will fund charging stations in nine select regions across the country, including Detroit.

Brighton, along with Northville and Novi, are among southeast Michigan cities set to be sub-grantees, Foster said. The program will cover the $6,000 cost of each station, although Brighton would be responsible for installation, which is estimated at $3,600 total.

City Attorney Paul Burns is reviewing the agreement, and if everything checks out, the city will likely get the stations in 60-90 days, according to City Manager Dana Foster.

The stations will be located in the North Street Parking Lot, East Block Parking Lot and Municipal Parking Lot behind City Hall. Each station could charge three cars at once, according to Director Matt Schindewolf, with one 240-volt outlet that would provide quick charges during short downtown visits, and two 120-volt outlets for slower charges, more suitable for people who work downtown.

"Those are considered master stations," Schindewolf explained. "If it proves to be something very popular, you can extend out with added slave stations to service more vehicles."

After talks with DTE and based on what the city pays for electricity, Foster recommended charging drivers a flat fee of $2 to "fill up," regardless of whether they need a partial or full charge. It would cost the city an estimated $2.60 for a full four-hour charge, but some cities want to offer charges for free in an effort to draw people downtown, Foster said.

Councilman Larry Schillinger questioned why the city would set a precedent of subsidizing a routine vehicle cost.

"Are we now at risk of a private business also wanting to have a charger and we're undercutting them?" he asked.

Foster agreed charging stations could be left to the private sector, but said they are in line with City Council's goals to pursue and promote green technologies. Plus, it's a whole new arena.

"It'd be cool for us as a city to be one of the first in the region to have this technology available in our downtown," Foster said.

julie Hine February 14, 2011 at 12:14 PM
I think it's fine to have- but the fee should completely cover the cost. Unless the city wants to start filling my gas tank while I shop! LOL

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