Electric car charging available at Edward locations.
Naperville getting plugged in to electric vehicles
By Susan Frick Carlman
January 11, 2013
Not so long ago, the idea of a car that runs without gas sounded like pie in the sky, something only the Jetsons would drive. Now, of course, battery-powered cars such as the Volt, Leaf and Tesla are making their way up and down streets everywhere. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re only encountering green lights.
Electric vehicle charging stations haven’t yet found their way onto every city block, but Naperville currently has three locations close to downtown where drivers can plug in and repower their gas-free rides.
"It’s very convenient now to have the charger at work,” said Adam Kestel, a systems engineer in the IT department at Edward Hospital, who plugs in his 2012 Chevrolet Volt while he’s at his job.
The downtown Naperville facility recently put in two charging stations in the south parking deck, and another pair at its Plainfield outpatient campus at 127th Street and Van Dyke Road.
Kestel, who bought his car last spring, plugs it in when he goes home to Bolingbrook at night. The 10-mile commute to work doesn’t come close to draining his battery, but having the Volt fully recharged at quitting time gives him more options at day’s end.
The city also installed a charging station last fall in the public parking lot on Van Buren Avenue just east of Main Street. The Department of Public Utilities-Electric said as of Friday morning, the station had been used 181 times since it went live Oct. 6.
And at North Central College, the new dual charging station in the Old Main parking lot went into service just last week. Each of the two spaces where motorists can plug in, including a spot that usually has a 15-minute limit, can be used for up to three hours.
“We had heard from a student whose dad has an electric vehicle that there was nowhere to charge it on campus,” said Brittany Graham, North Central’s sustainability coordinator. “It (also) was part of the college’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact.”
A trustee who also drives an electric vehicle was enthused about the plan and gave a donation to help pay for the station. Most of the station’s cost was covered by that contribution and an anticipated rebate from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which reimburses up to half the cost of putting in the charging stations.
The retail price of charging stations varies widely. General Electric produces models that cost less than $4,200, while others will set you back more than $15,000.
In the spring, North Central will put in two more charging spots in the Goldspohn parking lot.
“There’s not many charging stations now, but hopefully people will see it and see that there are places to charge these cars,” Graham said.
The distances between charging stations are sometimes substantial. Kestel occasionally has to think through the travels he’ll be making in the coming day, to avoid finding himself without power for his car.
He said he has an app on his phone that helps him find locations, but occasionally he’ll wind up somewhere he might not otherwise go, because he can charge his car there.
Some of the outlet malls in the area have places to plug in, Kestel said.
“I’ve seen electric vehicle parking outside some stores, but without charging stations,” he said. “It would be nice if they had them there, too.”
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services