Starting in July, drivers will be charged for charging their electric vehicles in Campbell. The city council approved the new rate at 25 cents per hour, with an additional 30 cents per hour during peak times of the day.
In 2010, the city received 10 electric vehicle charging stations from Campbell-based company Coulomb Technologies. In 2011, the city made an agreement with ChargePoint America that included the warranty and a two-year subscription for each charging station. Since then, electric car users have been able to charge their cars for free in Campbell.
However, now that the two-year subscription is almost up, the city will have to pay the electricity, annual subscription and maintenance repair costs for each station.
"We're basically looking to recover our costs," said Todd Capurso, community development director.
At the March 18 council meeting, Capurso suggested charging a $1 per hour fee to use the charging stations. The recommendation was based on surveys of other cities in the county.
However, owners of electric vehicles who charge their cars in Campbell pointed out that electric vehicles charge at different speeds. Higher-end vehicles may charge at 7 kilowatts per hour, while older models might only charge at 2 kilowatts per hour.
Mayor Rich Waterman appointed a subcommittee that was challenged to find a way to structure the fees so that the city could recover its costs while still encouraging electric car use, drawing people to the city and inspiring turnover at the charging stations during the cities' peak hours.
Capurso explained that Campbell pays a flat fee of 23 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.Therefore, the city would make cost recovery for electricity used by charging 25 cents per hour, 2 cents more than what the city pays.
Those using the stations between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. will be charged an additional rate of 30 cents per hour that would be used for the city's licensing fees and maintenance costs.
Capurso originally proposed charging an additional rate of 50 cents per hour. Three electric car users spoke in favor of lowering the additional daily fee.
Jeff Nisewanger, a San Francisco resident who works in Santa Clara, said he frequently uses the Campbell charging stations. He drives a vehicle that can run on either electricity or gas.
Under the proposed rate of 25 cents with an additional 50 cents during peak hours, Nisewanger would pay 42 cents per kilowatt hour, the equivalent of paying $5.30 for gasoline.
"Under the new policies, I probably won't charge here anymore because it's cheaper to just burn gas, and that's unfortunate," he told the council.
Councilman Mike Kotowski requested that the proposed figure be amended downward.
"We tout ourselves as a green city. ... We don't want to chase away the electric cars, because that's part of the process of reducing the carbon footprint," he said.
Councilman Jason Baker agreed.
"I don't want to discourage people from coming here, from buying these [electric] vehicles," he said.
Capurso said 30 cents, rather than 50 cents, would be a reasonable place to start, adding that staff will monitor how the process goes this year and may come back to the city council with another recommendation next year.
Capurso said that Campbell is under "strong consideration" for another grant that would provide the city with two more dual stations with four more charging points.
Source: San Jose Mercury News
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