Riverside’s first electric vehicle charging station ought to be up and running in the village’s downtown early next year after village trustees voted unanimously on Dec. 1 to enter into a public-private partnership with a local business.

The EV charging station will be located in the first two onsite parking spaces at Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St., said the store’s co-owner Peter Boutsikakis, and will be able to charge two electric vehicles at the same time.

The charger, which will be a Level 2 device, is coming from a company called Blink, which has a network of charging stations in the Chicago area. Anyone using the Blink app to locate chargers will be able to find the Riverside location there.

It will be available for use at all times by the general public, not just customers of Riverside Foods.

Boutsikakis has contracted with Forest Park-based Project Green Environmental Solutions and Palatine-based Hummingbird Electric, companies Riverside Food has used to implement other sustainable infrastructure at the store, such as the 64-panel solar array on the roof.

An estimate of cost from Project Green that was included in the village board’s Dec. 1 meeting packet indicates it will cost about $31,300 to install the charging station, including running an underground ComEd electric service line from a transformer on a utility pole at the rea of the property to the charging station.

Riverside Foods is spearheading the installation of the charger, but Riverside is funding 100-percent of the cost. Part of the cost will be funded via a $10,000 grant the village was awarded through ComEd’s Power Communities Program, which requires all the work to be completed prior to March 31, 2023.

Officials initially mulled using the grant to help fund installation of a four-charger Level 2 EV station in the municipal parking lot at 63 E. Burlington St. However, the cost of that installation was pegged at $85,000 and in order to use the grant work must be completed no later than March 31, 2023. Officials were not confident they could pull off an EV installation in time.

By using the grant in the partnership with Riverside Foods, the village’s total outlay is likely to be no more than $25,000.

“[The grant] is enabling us to be able to do this,” said Boutsikakis. “While revenue generation is questionable, this really is an infrastructure project. We’re building the infrastructure for the future.”

Riverside Foods will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the EV station and power costs. The agreement between the village and Riverside Foods is for 10 years, with the ability to automatically renew it for another five years. 

The agreement can be terminated by mutual consent any time after the first five years of the contract, with the charger being removed as a result.

For at least the first six months, people won’t need to pay to charge their cars at the Riverside Foods EV station, though that’s likely to change in the future so Riverside Foods can offset costs related to its operation and maintenance.

Village trustees on Dec. 1 agreed to amend the agreement with Riverside Foods to include language calling for the village to reimburse Riverside Foods when revenue from the charger falls short of costs. Riverside Foods will provide financial information to demonstrate any financial shortfall.

If both chargers are used three hours a day, according to information provided by the village, the total annual expense to Riverside Foods would be about $1,750. The average hourly rate for charging stations, said Village Manager Jessica Frances, is $1.50 per hour. At that rate, if Riverside Foods would expect total revenues of about $3,300, meaning Riverside Foods would clear about $1,500 in profit on an annual basis.