“It’s great that the network is back up and running. I’m excited,” said Brian Howe, president and CEO of JNS Holdings, referring to the progress his company has made since acquiring numerous electric vehicle charging stations throughout Chicago, including two in Forest Park.
JNS, an Arlington Heights-based electrical company, assumed control of the stations from 350Green LLC, a California company facing fraud charges in federal court. Of the two stations in Forest Park, one is located in Constitution Court, Madison Street and Thomas Avenue, on Village property. The other station is at the Walgreens on Roosevelt Road.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a court order awarded JNS ownership of the network, and JNS was obligated to finalize a new licensing agreement with the village of Forest Park to continue operation of the station. At its most recent meeting, the Forest Park Village Council unanimously approved the agreement.
The licensing agreement does not require JNS to pay rent or any other fees to the village. However, JNS is responsible for reimbursing the village for any energy usage at the station. Consumers pay a fixed rate of $2 per hour to charge vehicles.
In 2011, the city of Chicago authorized 350Green LLC to construct a regional network of charging stations for electric vehicles. As part of the network, Forest Park allowed 350Green LLC to construct a charging station in Constitution Court.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian told the Review, “The village agreed to add the dedicated space to electric vehicles as a way to encourage more use of electric vehicles and to encourage the owners of those vehicles to shop in our downtown.”
However, in the following years, optimism regarding the environmentally-conscious infrastructure vanished because 350Green LLC was soon investigated by the FBI for fraud.
More recently, its owners, Mariana Gerzanych and Timothy Mason, were indicted in a Chicago federal court on fraud charges for misleading several government agencies across the United States, as reported by the Tribune.
As 350Green’s legal troubles continued, the company neglected its Chicago network. While charging stations, like the one at Constitution Court, were still connected to a power grid and able to charge vehicles, “JNS was not in control of tracking the network. We could not get online and actually monitor the stations,” said Howe.
After acquiring ownership, Howe told the Review, his company began working with ChargePoint, another California-based company, to repair the neglected Chicago network.
“We got all that stuff back online. They trained us. And they worked with us. We could then see all the transactions, all the energy being used, which stations were not reporting correctly and then we responded. That took place in August of last year,” Howe said. In its partnership with ChargePoint, JNS now operates 115 stations across Chicago, according to its March 25 press release.
When asked about specific usage data for the Constitution Court station, Howe stated 350Green LLC was responsible for data collection in the station’s first years of operation and as of March 25, 350Green has not turned over that information. However, Howe did note that JNS, as the new administrator of the station, is now responsible for filing quarterly reports to the village on future usage of the station.
In an email exchange with the Review regarding usage of the station, Gillian stated, “The station has not generated much use in the past so there is no data to collect,”
However, Howe remains optimistic, saying, “The Chevy Bolt is coming out in 2017, which can go 200 plus miles on a single charge. It is a watershed moment. It is a game-changer. We need the infrastructure.”
This article has been changed to correct the name of the vehicle Chevrolet is coming out with in 2017.