Riverside is in line to install a public electric vehicle (EV) charging station somewhere in the downtown area by next spring after receiving a $10,000 ComEd Powering Safe Communities grant, one of 21 awarded by the utility company in partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

“Through the Powering Safe Communities grants program, we are thrilled to be cutting carbon emissions and providing northern Illinois communities the infrastructure needed for climate progress,” said Kevin Burns, mayor of Geneva and the chairman of the MMC’s Environment Committee, in an Aug. 2 press release. “Electric vehicles and charging stations have significant emission benefits over conventional vehicles. By working with ComEd to provide grant funding to communities and through the EV Readiness partnership, we are clearing the way to electrify our cities throughout the metropolitan region and beyond.”

The ComEd grant must be utilized by the end of March 2023, and although the grant will cover just a fraction of the cost to install an EV station – installation is pegged at between $55,000 and $90,000 — elected officials last week indicated the village would move ahead with the project.

“We are committed as a board that we will install an EV station within the next eight months,” said Village President Joseph Ballerine at the board of trustees meeting on Aug. 4.

There may be an opportunity for the village to obtain further grant funding through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Public Works Director Dan Tabb told trustees that the IEPA has advertised an EV station grant program that would cover up to 80 percent of the cost to install charging stations. However, he said, the state has not begun accepting applications and details had not been released as of last week.

“We do not have a timeline on the application, nor have we received any information whether we can apply as a retroactive reimbursement … if we were to install [an EV station] sooner,” Tabb said.

Three downtown locations have been identified as possible spots for an EV station, including one of the hourly parking spaces outside of the Riverside Metra station on Bloomingbank Road, the main commuter parking lot west of the train station and the village’s “green” parking lot at 63 E. Burlington St.

Because of the availability of an appropriate power source, an hourly parking space outside the train station would be the cheapest to install, at about $55,000, Tabb estimated. Installing a charging station at the commuter lot or green parking lot would cost about $90,000.

According to Tabb, the type of device to be installed would be a Level 2 charger, which can recharge an empty battery fully in about 11 hours. Level 3 chargers, which can fully charge an empty battery within an hour, would be “vastly more expensive” to install, Tabb said.

The length of time it will take to charge an electric vehicle could impact where the village ends up locating the EV station. If the charger were a Level 3 device, some trustees indicated that it would make more sense to put it in the green parking lot or elsewhere in the central business district, where it could be used by someone shopping or dining downtown.

If a Level 2 station is the only option, it might make sense to locate it near the Metra station, probably on the street, to make it accessible to more vehicles. Trustees instructed staff to find out what kind of demand there might be from commuters also to explore a possible public-private partnership to help fund EV station installation in the downtown.

Regardless of where or what type of charging station the village installs this time around, trustees uniformly voiced support for the idea of installing EV stations, indicating that the one partially funded by the ComEd grant was just the beginning.

“I think we need to look at this as phase one, that we’re going to do a whole lot more of this down the road,” said Trustee Doug Pollock. “This is just the start. I think that may inform our decision making of where we put them.”