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Bloomington Considers Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

During a work session of the Bloomington City Council, city alderpersons discussed accepting four electric vehicle (EV) charging stations from the town of Normal, acquired as part of a federal grant application under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The town of Normal was rewarded $488,500 in February to purchase EV charging stations. The momentum behind the Normal grant application was the work of the Bloomington-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force, originally convened by Normal Mayor Chris Koos.

Bloomington would be under the same grant stipulations as Normal if the city accepts the EV stations. The city would receive the charging stations free-of-cost, but it would pay for their installation and electricity cost for the first five years. The charging stations would then be free to users for the first five years.

Mayor Stockton came out in support of collaboration with the Normal government on this issue. Stockton said that Bloomington should have a role in supporting, through investment, emerging electric car technology.

Discussion in the work session centered around cost and the detailed terms of the federal grant.

Jim Karch, Bloomington Public Works Director, estimated that the total cost of installing the four EV charging stations would be approximately $4,000. The cost for subsidizing the electricity would run as low as a few thousands dollars to $20,000, spread over five years and dependent upon use.

Mayor Stockton said that he would prefer that people use the charging stations and said that $20,000 is a small investment for the city. Alderman Fazzini echoed Mayor Stockton’s views on the benefits of supporting electric car technology and cooperating with Normal. Fazzini said that electric cars are the trend in the country, helping with energy savings.

Alderman Mboka Mwilambwe asked how the city planned to publicize the locations of the EV charging stations, especially since some potential users would be out-of-town visitors. Deputy city manager, Barbara Adkins, said in response that there would have to be an aggressive publicity campaign to promote the stations.

At the end of discussion, Jim Karch provided the council with a timetable on implementation. The issue will be brought before the Bloomington City Council for a vote on Monday, July 25th. If passed, the charging stations would have to be installed by December 31st of this year, according to the stipulations of the grant.

Additional Resources:
Bloomington-Normal EV Town
Sierra Club article: Bloomington Normal Aims to Become EV Town, USA
Movie Trailer: Who Killed the Electric Car? (You can also see the whole movie on Youtube.)

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