City to install 3 charging stations for electric cars

Work downtown meant to make Toledo ‘greener’

9/18/2013
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Toledo Art Museum has installed charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot behind the museum. Though not yet fully operational, the installation has been completed.  THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
The Toledo Art Museum has installed charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot behind the museum. Though not yet fully operational, the installation has been completed. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

Toledo’s downtown-dwellers soon will have three new spots to plug in electric and hybrid vehicles — something people with those vehicles say will continue to increase with demand.

The city plans to announce the installation of three charging stations on the west side of Superior Street near Adams Street.

Bill Thomas, executive director of the the Downtown Toledo Improvement District, said the installations are a good move toward making Toledo a greener city.

“I think it’s a great thing to do,” he said. “A lot of people are not buying those cars because they are concerned about where they would be able to charge.”

The three stations will cost $2,400 each, for a total of $7,200. The cost of plugging in a car will be included in the cost of the parking meter charge, city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said.

The Downtown Toledo Parking Authority cleared away four meters Monday to make room for the installation, which could start within 10 days.

Real estate broker Jon Modene, who purchased a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in February, said the savings have been tremendous. Among his concerns were finding places to recharge the Volt when away from his home — where it is plugged in nightly. A Volt can travel 40 miles on batteries before it needs its gas-powered generator for power. If he had to use the generator frequently, that defeats the purpose of owning a plug-in electric vehicle, Mr. Modene reasoned.

“It’s driven by convenience and the price of gasoline and as the range gets greater and more manufacturers introduce them, you will see demand for charging stations,” he said.

Mr. Modene uses his iPhone app “PlugShare” to find charging stations.

So far, he admits the Toledo area has limited charging stations, so the addition of three downtown is good news, he said.

The Columbus area has at least 34 public charging stations. The city of Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University joined up to put in six charging stations. By comparison, there are four existing public charging stations where any electric-hybrid owner can recharge their vehicle in metro Toledo.

A station at the Toledo Museum of Art became operational about a month ago, spokesman Kelly Garrow said.

“I think it is still new and word hasn’t spread,” Ms. Garrow said. “One of the docents has an electric car and I know she plugs in.”

Charging at the museum is free with the cost of parking, which is $5.

Stations also are located at Lourdes University in Sylvania, the Yark Nissan dealership in Sylvania Township, and at Re/​Max Masters in Perrysburg, where Mr. Modene installed a charging station and has declared it a public outlet that any electric vehicle owner can use.

Several other electric chargers are situated in the metro area, but they aren’t for use by the public. General Motors’ Powertrain plant has six chargers for its workers to use. Dave White Chevrolet in Sylvania has three chargers, but they are for the dealership and its customers to use. The University of Toledo has a charger on each of its three campuses, but they are not for public use, either.

Clean Fuels Ohio, a statewide nonprofit that promotes green fuels and vehicles, said stations cost between $7,000 and $15,000 depending on how many chargers are on a station and how far it is from electrical lines.

Mayor Mike Bell said the installations are meant to make Toledo greener and more modern.

“I think with more people driving cars that can be recharged, we are trying to get into the 21st century,” he said. “I am glad we are going where we need to be.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.