Owners of both battery-powered and hybrid cars will soon be able to power up in Forest Park, following a deal the village struck last week with a Los Angeles-based company to install electric-car-charging stations in town.
The partnership between the village and 350 Green LLC will bring a charging station to the parking lot located at Madison Street and Thomas Avenue, in the heart of Forest Park’s commercial district. The company will construct the station in the village-owned lot and 5 percent of the revenue that is earned from charging fees will be handed over to the municipality, each month.
The agreement was finalized after the village board passed a resolution at its Oct. 24 council meeting. The village has not said how much revenue it estimates the station will bring in.
Commissioner Chris Harris called that a “big question mark.”
The Mayor’s Press Office said that Village Administrator Tim Gillian would contact the Forest Park Review to discuss the matter, but he never did.
As part of the agreement, 350 Green will cover all installation costs and handle maintenance. 350 Green spokesperson Nicole Fallot said installing the station will likely cost about $10,000.
According to documents that accompanied the resolution, “one Level 2 Charging Station” will be installed in the lot.
350 Green’s website states that it offers several types of charging stations. The Level 2 station, for example, is 220 volts of power. The company also offers a Level 1 station, at 120 volts, and a high-powered Level 3 station, known as the DC Fast (for Direct Current), which is 480 volts.
Forest Park’s Level 2 station would provide the amount of power usually required by home appliances such as refrigerators or washing machines, Fallot said.
It can be used on battery-powered cars, such as Nissan’s Leaf, as well as on some vehicles that run on a combination of electricity and gas, like the Chevrolet Volt.
Its hose-like charger resembles a gas pump and plugs right into the cars. Consumers using the 220-volt station will pay $3 for a 90-minute session, Fallot said, adding that, in the future, the company plans to roll out subscriptions to users, which will cost $50-$80 monthly.
Fallot said the Level 2 station takes 6-8 hours to fully charge the battery in most electric cars, but its pay-as-you-go rate allows drivers to “top off” while they run errands or shop.
“You’ll get a pretty good charge in those 90 minutes,” Fallot said.
This is likely why the charging station is being placed in Forest Park’s shopping hub: Owners of electric cars, whether they’re residents or visitors, can park and then shop while powering up.
But the number of electric and hybrid cars on the road is still small. A 2010 study by J.D. Power and Associates estimates that, by the end of 2011, only 20,000 of the 12.5 million vehicles that are expected to be sold, nationwide, will be battery-powered cars. The Chicago Tribune also reported, in April, that the sales estimate had dropped to 15,000 as recently as last March.
The J.D. Power study stated that only 12,000 hybrid vehicles would likely be sold in the U.S. by the close of the year.
350 Green told the Tribune in February that it expects 7 percent, or 334,188 cars, in the Chicago area will run only on batteries by 2020.
Fallot said the company has an agreement with Walgreens drug stores to install stations at 425 locations, nationwide.
“Right now are they everywhere? No,” said Commissioner Chris Harris. “It’s a technology that’s going to be expanding, and I think it’s good that Forest Park is adapting to the changes that are out there.”
“Why not have this service … and be one step ahead, rather than behind?” he added.
Harris, who voted in favor of the resolution, commended the village, during last week’s council meeting, for pursuing the initiative.
“Does that mean you’re going to be out there looking to buy an electric car tomorrow?” joked Mayor Anthony Calderone.
“I’ve been looking for a while,” Harris said.