Smart Columbus Nears Citywide EV Charging Station Goal

The organization, dedicated to advancing alternative modes of transportation in the Ohio region, has rolled out more than 800 charging ports across a seven-county area. More are slated to come online in 2020.

by Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch / February 3, 2020
Electric vehicle charging stations can be found at Easton Town Center. The City of Columbus has funded chargers at 17 properties with $238,000 in grants and American Electric Power has $9.5 million in grants to help finance 300 charging ports. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch] TNS

(TNS) — Smart Columbus is closing in on its goal of having 1,000 charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles in central Ohio by March 31.

As of Dec. 31, the seven-county region had 826 charging ports installed:

• 379 at workplaces;

• 177 at fleet locations;

• 154 at public places;

• 116 at apartment or condominium complexes.

That's been done through the $10 million Paul G. Allen Philanthropies grant. The stations include "Level 2" stations — 240-volt ports that provide 25 to 38 miles of range per hour of charging, and fast-charging stations that provide 60 to 80 miles of range in 20 minutes of charging.

"In 2020, you're going to see a lot more fast chargers come online," said Jordan Davis, the Columbus Partnership's Smart Columbus director.

On Jan. 14, Columbus' first two fast-charge stations opened Downtown along Fulton Street west of South 4th Street. Each of the stations can simultaneously charge two vehicles in about 30 minutes. The charge, paid by credit card, could cost $10 to $15 depending on energy demand and time of day.

"It fills a great gap. Helps a lot of visitors," Davis said.

The $10 million grant funds that pilot project, too. The first two stations cost about $80,000.

Davis said more companies and organizations have charging stations. That includes Huntington Bancshares and OhioHealth.

"We're going to see a lot more workplace charging," Davis said. The number of workplaces with charging stations increased from three to 60 in two years, she said.

Allegra Wiesler, senior sustainability consultant at OhioHealth, said the health system has 54 charging posts for employees, patients and their families, offering free charging at its facilities in the seven-county region, with plans to add more.

"We see the connection to public health supporting zero tailpipe emissions," Wiesler said.

OhioHealth has bought its first electric vehicle for its courier fleet.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has 11 charging stations that were installed in February 2019: five for staff and fleet vehicles, and six for visitors.

For several years, visitors had emailed the zoo about whether it had charging stations, especially during the holiday Wildlights show, said Barb Revard, the zoo's sustainability director.

In 2019, there were only 10 days when no visitors used the charging stations at the zoo, and the zoo was closed on two of those days, she said. The busiest day was May 11, when good weather helped bring in a large crowd, she said. The second-busiest day was Dec. 26.

American Electric Power helped the zoo with the cost of the stations, Revard said.

AEP has helped pay for charging stations in general through a $9.5 million incentive program. Company spokesman Scott Blake said 97% of that money has been committed to projects.

Land Grant Brewing in Franklinton had hoped to install a charger last summer, but grant funding was not available then. The brewery is investigating how to secure funding to install a charger this year, said Vinny Valentino, Land Grant's sustainability and operations manager.

"One of the pillars of Land Grant is that we're trying to be a sustainable brewery and a sustainable neighbor," Valentino said, adding that the brewery would like to add electric sales vehicles at some point.

The city of Columbus will reach its goal of 200 electric vehicles in its fleet by March 31, Finance Director Joe Lombardi said.

The city is trying to reduce its carbon footprint, Lombardi said, after winning the Smart Cities Challenge in 2016 to advance transportation innovation. The city received $40 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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