La Salle will move ahead with plans for downtown electric vehicle chargers

‘We are really in a desert when it comes to the availability of these units’

Taking into account the auto industry’s move to cleaner vehicles, La Salle’s City Council will move forward with a plan to set up parking spots to charge electrical vehicles.

Economic Development Director Leah Inman presented the proposal to the council Monday night and received the go ahead to move forward.

Inman said sales of electric vehicles have increased 641% since 2013, and it’s estimated that by 2030, 13 million charging stations will be needed in the U.S. alone to meet the growing demand.

As demand grows, so will supply, as, most notably, General Motors has made the public commitment to eliminate gasoline-powered cars and SUVs by 2035.

The Illinois Valley features three locations for drivers of electric vehicles to power up. HyVee in Peru features eight chargers only for Tesla vehicles. Both JP Motors in Peru and Starved Rock State Park offer three ports to charge an electric vehicle.

“We are really in a desert when it comes to the availability of these units,” Inman said. “With us being in close proximity to so many cities, 50 to 100 miles, it makes logical sense for us to have one right in the center of the Interstate 39 and 80 intersection.”

These chargers can come in three different voltages offering a variety of different charge times.

Level one chargers are 120v and are typically found in a home or an apartment and generally can provide around 2 to 5 miles per hour charged.

Level two chargers were proposed by Inman and provide 240v and around 40 to 65 miles per hour of charge.

The final level of chargers uses a direct current fed at the rate of 480v and can provide around 80% of a battery’s charge in 30 to 40 minutes.

The level two charger proposed to La Salle would include one stand with two charging ports that would be placed to allow two vehicles to charge at once.

Inman offered the idea of placing the station in the Second Street parking lot because the location offers ample accessible power and will be useful for Celebrate La Salle, Christkindlmarket and other events offered downtown. The city will explore other spots before a definitive location will be decided.

The project would be paid for using tax increment financing funds and could charge consumers a set, upfront fee to use the charger and then for every kWh used after.

The city could be able to set the parameters and any markups for the services and have access to a web interface with detailed reporting and on-the-fly changes.

Inman reported several financial benefits to installing the charging stations including an estimated profit from the services themselves that will scale as use increases but also the added increase in sales tax and additional tourism from visitors charging their vehicles.

Jayce Eustice

Covering local government, breaking news and whatever is thrown at me for the La Salle News Tribune