Oregon working to install EV charging station

Council OK’d seven-year contract with Blink Charging for Level 2 equipment in Fifth Street parking lot

OREGON — Oregon city officials are taking steps to add an electric vehicle charging station to the Fifth Street municipal parking lot.

Installation of necessary infrastructure — including an electricity meter, conduit and electric cable — and a site survey are the current steps, City Administrator Darin DeHaan said. They installers will likely also do some sidewalk work to ensure access to the site to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and aim to leave access for Autumn on Parade events, he said.

“It’s more than just plunking this thing down,” DeHaan said. “We’re trying to take all those things into account.”

On Dec. 13, city council members unanimously voted to OK a seven-year contract with Blink Charging — a Florida-based company that manufactures, owns, operates and provides EV charging equipment and services.

The contract with Blink is a “hybrid,” where Blink supplies the EV charging equipment and the city provides the infrastructure, DeHaan said.

“Then it’s a cost-sharing,” he said. “We pay an $18 user fee, and then we get a 60-40 split of any charge beyond their electric bill.”

The city would get 40% of the revenue from the charging station, according to the city’s contract with Blink.

Shaw Media obtained a copy of the contract from the city upon request. The charging station is a Level 2 charger capable of delivering up to 65 miles of charge in one hour, and will allow up to two vehicles to charge at once.

“The Level 2, it is not the fastest charge, but it’s an affordable way to kind of get started,” DeHaan said. He added that, while a vehicle is charging, people could visit the museum or the Colosseum.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, EV charging equipment is available at three speeds: Level 1, Level 2 and direct current fast charging (DCFC).

Level 1 chargers can take 40- to 50 hours to charge an EV from empty, and five to six hours to charge a hybrid vehicle from empty, the DOT website states. Level 2 equipment can fully charge an EV from empty in four to 10 hours and a hybrid vehicle from empty in one to two hours.

DCFC equipment “enables rapid charging along heavy-traffic corridors at installed stations” and can charge an EV in 20 to 60 minutes, according to the DOT website. Most hybrid vehicles don’t work with DCFCs.

City Commissioner Tim Krug questioned why they weren’t installing DCFC equipment. DeHaan explained that it was a matter of cost.

“The hard part is we have no data set,” DeHaan said. “So when I work with Blink, Blink says, ‘Well how many EV vehicles are in here? How often are they used?’ … We just don’t have a good idea yet what we have for vehicles.”

According to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website, there were 35,504 EVs in the state and 53 EVs in Ogle County as of Nov. 15, 2021. As of Nov. 15, 2022, there are 55,333 EVs in Illinois and 77 in Ogle County. These totals do not include hybrid vehicles.

The state’s records of EVs per county go back to November 2017; at that point there were 8,031 EVs in the state and three in Ogle County.

“Something’s better than nothing,” Krug said. “This is a good way to top off. People are coming in, they can top off their vehicles, not looking for a complete charge.”

DeHaan met with an electrical engineer on Jan. 20 and reviewed the city’s options for how to get power to the site.

“Once the engineer comes back with the scope of work, we’ll then seek an electrician to complete the work,” he said. “Once we get power to the location, then Blink will come in and put the station in.”

It seems like the conduit can be bored into place, so the blacktop shouldn’t need to be worked on, DeHaan noted. The existing meter sits on an old plywood frame; that will be redone.

Price of EV charging

Charging rates vary from location to location, and depend on the type of charging equipment as well as the vehicle being charged, according to an FAQ on BlinkCharging.com. Users should refer to their owner’s manual for battery size and charge speeds to help determine charge costs, the FAQ says.

“Charging rates for our stations are indicated on the chargers,” the FAQ reads. “Charging rates are also displayed on the Blink Charging mobile app when you select a charging station.”

It’s not really possible to know the exact cost of a charge until you’re charging, DeHaan said. Rates fluctuate the same way gas prices do, he said.

“The market adjusts the rates,” DeHaan said. “If Blink sees nobody’s using it because their rates are too high, why would they do that?”

There are multiple phone apps people can use to find EV charging stations and see the current cost to charge at that station, DeHaan noted.

DeHaan said that if charging rates become an issue, the city might be willing to adjust the percentage of revenue it receives so the cost could be lowered.

“We’re not looking at this for money-making,” he said.

Blink representatives did not return return Shaw Media requests for comment or further clarification on prices.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.