Two more electric vehicle charging stations could be going in downtown if the city of Winona can secure a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency this fall.
Tuesday, the Winona City Council unanimously voted to apply for the $8,994 grant, which would cover 80 percent of the cost of installing the chargers, cutting the city’s contribution to about $2,250.
These chargers would have otherwise cost the city $11,242, including the cost of installation and metering.
Last month, Bluff Country Co-op installed Winona’s first public charging station.
Winona sustainability coordinator John Howard said the city plans to further reduce the cost of the chargers through donations.
The grant application filed by the city fell short of initial plans to partner with its neighbors in La Crescent, Wabasha, Lake City and Red Wing to expand the availability of charging stations along the Hwy. 61 corridor.
That plan hit a roadblock in late July when the MPCA limited applications for DC fast chargers, which would have allowed electric vehicle owners to juice up in as little as 45 minutes, to four corridors. Hwy. 61 wasn’t one of them.
Instead, the city turned its attention to an MPCA grant for the less powerful level-two charging stations, which should allow motorists to juice up most EVs and plug in hybrids in about three or four hours.
Due to the longer charging time, city staff is planning to install the chargers in the municipal lot next to Midtown Foods.
At the city council meeting Tuesday, council members Michelle Alexander and Paul Schollmeier expressed concern with the proposed location.
“Is there maybe a better spot for them?” Alexander asked. “Maybe someplace that is more accessible?”
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Schollmeier agreed with Alexander, suggesting instead to install the chargers in the parking lot near the former Godfather’s Pizza building.
City manager Steve Sarvi said the location of the chargers was picked due to the length of time required to charge the vehicles.
“It takes a while to charge them,” he said. “We want to give people an opportunity to do some shopping.”
Howard said while the parking lot near the former Godfather’s Pizza was an option it would likely delay the application until after the deadline had passed.
He said access to electrical infrastructure necessary to support the chargers was another limiting factor.
Unlike the charger installed by Bluff County Co-op last month, the city’s charging stations won’t be free.
Users will pay a fee based on the amount of electricity consumed.
Sarvi also noted that the chargers wouldn’t be used for city vehicles that may be purchased in the future.
This June the city began a study investigating the viability of electric and hybrid vehicles in its fleet. Data loggers were installed in 20 city vehicles. The data from these will be used to draw conclusions about where or not electric vehicles would be cost-effective replacements.
Howard said the city should know whether the grant proposal was accepted sometime in October.