FutureStructure

Franklin County, Ohio, Invests in Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The county is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its parking facilities — $65,000 of which is slated to add to the existing eight charging stations for electric cars.

by Kimball Perry, The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) / January 6, 2017

(TNS) -- Preparing for a green future will cost Franklin County some green.

The county is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its parking facilities — $65,000 of which is slated to add to the existing eight charging stations for electric cars.

“We installed the infrastructure to support as many as 20 vehicles as demand grows,” said Jim Goodenow, Franklin County’s Public Facilities Management director.

The move is a concession to the shift to alternative energy sources and an increase in the number of electric cars on the road.

The existing eight charging stations at the county garage were installed in early 2016. Six of those are exclusively for county vehicles, two for public use. The county has no completely electric cars. Instead, it has Ford hybrids that run on electricity and gasoline.

“We didn’t have a place to plug them in,” said Charlotte Ashcraft, Franklin County Fleet Management director, said. “It’s really better if every time you parked them, we could plug them in.”

That will be even more important in the future, she added, because in addition to the increase of private hybrid and electric cars on the road, governments will be buying more of them. Franklin County, she said, plans to buy 10 more hybrid cars over the next two years.

The city of Columbus plans to buy far more than that. As part of the Smart Cities program, a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to development advanced transportation systems, the city’s intent is to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

The plan, said Jeff Ortega, spokesman for the Department of Public Services, is to buy 100 electric vehicles in 2017 and 100 more in 2018. Columbus has two charging stations, Ortega said. One is at 50 Gay St., the other at West Goodale Street between Dennison Avenue and Park Street.

The city is working on plans to add more charging stations, Ortega said.

Franklin County buys hybrid cars instead of all-electric because there are so few charging stations, Ashcraft said.

“That’s part of the issue with all of the government partnerships because there’s no infrastructure” to recharge cars, she said.

A full charge, she said, can take six to eight hours. That means employees who use the cars often take them home and charge them there.

The hybrid cars get great gas mileage, partly because they aren’t using gas as the only energy to power the cars. Most get “in the high 40s” of miles per gallon, Ashcraft said. One gets over 60.

More electric charging stations are being installed in central Ohio, including in the Ohio Statehouse garage.

The first charging station for Tesla Motors between Columbus and Cleveland near Interstate 71 is in Morrow County. It’s one of 769 charging stations the electric car maker has across the country. It helps build the stations so that electric cars can travel anywhere.

That station is Tesla’s seventh in Ohio. The closest to Columbus is in Grove City’s Derby Square Shopping Center.

©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.