Massachusetts City Votes for Fees on Public EV Charging

The Agawam City Council voted this week to charge 60 cents per kilowatt-hour to drivers using the city’s electric vehicle charging network. The seven public chargers have been free to use since December 2019.

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(TNS) — Electric vehicle owners are going to have to pay for their own power, the City Council voted on Monday.

What they’ll be buying when they use one of the town’s seven public charging stations is the electricity only, however, not network or administration fees. While the town had originally proposed a $1 per kilowatt-hour fee, which would have covered all costs, the council endorsed an amendment from Mayor William Sapelli reducing the fee to 60 cents per kilowatt-hour. The town has operated free charging stations since December 2019, with taxpayers footing the bill.
 
Councilor Dino Mercadante said the 60-cent fee is an attempt to be fair both to electric vehicle drivers, who can purchase power elsewhere more cheaply, and taxpayers who don’t own electric vehicles.
 
“I don’t want the taxpayer to have to subsidize these vehicles,” Mercadante said, but “you can’t price this thing so far out of reach that you’re going to send them to other communities to purchase electricity. You have to find that happy medium.”
 
According to Councilor Paul Cavallo, the 60-cent fee will cover the full cost of supplying electricity to charging station users. The town will cancel its contract with Chargepoint, a California-based company that administers and markets charging stations, which accounted for roughly 40 cents of the proposed $1 fee. At previous council meetings, town resident Susan Grossberg had criticized the proposed $1 fee, saying it costs her only 35 cents per kilowatt-hour at commercial charging stations, and electricity costs 21 cents per kilowatt-hour at home.
 
Residential customers pay a lower electricity rate than municipally owned charging stations. Councilor Rosemary Sandlin suggested that the council lobby the state Department of Public Utilities to lower the municipal electric rates to a more competitive figure. Councilors voted 9-1 to approve a 60-cent fee. They have to confirm the vote at their next meeting, scheduled for early April, before it can take effect.
 
Mario Tedeschi was the only councilor to vote against the fee. He said regardless of the supply cost, it makes no sense for the town to charge a fee that’s so much higher than the market rate. “Who’s going to buy it?” he asked. “Is it such a convenience that someone is going to pay two or three times more? No one’s going to top off at the park, or anywhere else, because it’s 300 percent more expensive.”
 
He said he would have supported a fee of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour. Councilor Gerald Smith said whatever the town’s cost is, he wouldn’t want to set the charging station rate any lower, as taxpayers should not be paying for electric power for a handful of drivers in town.
 
“Electric vehicle owners already get many perks,” Smith said. “They get rebates, there’s tax breaks at the state and federal level. They chose to buy the electric vehicle.” The fees will apply to electric vehicle charging stations in municipal parking lots at Agawam High School, the Agawam Public Library, the Agawam Senior Center, Borgatti Park, Shea Field and on both sides of School Street Park.
 
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