Problems with a contractor have forced I-Go Car Sharing to scale back plans for three electric car charging stations in Evanston.

The contractor, Los Angeles-based 350Green, has abandoned similar projects in Chicago and other cities, according to a report in today’s Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper says the firm reportedly is being investigated by the FBI over allegations it sought reimbursement from Chicago city officials for subcontractor bills that it had not actually paid.

In Evanston, charging stations in city parking lots on Chicago Avenue downtown and on Hinman Avenue near Main Street are now expected to go into operation next month, according to the city’s sustainability coordinator, Catherine Hurley and I-Go‘s executive director, Sharon Feigon.

Top: A charging station display. Above: The solar canopy at the charging station in the city parking lot on Chicago Avenue near the public library.

At the third site, on Central Street, Hurley says, the charging station will go into service this summer, after the city finishes a paving project to reconfigure that parking lot at Central and Stewart Avenue.

But all the facilities will be smaller than planned, with only two charging stations each, instead of four

And while each was originally planned to have two spaces covered with a solar canopy that would have generated power to make up for that used by the charging stations, Feigon says the already-installed canopy at the Chicago Avenue lot is the only one still in the project.

Hurley says the city provided no funds for the project and so it isn’t out any money. But I-Go, which has had to scramble to reallocate funds to be able to complete the project at all, has decided to scale back the number of cars it will have at each of the Evanston sites from two to just one.

She says that will open up one of the already installed charging stations at each site for use by the general public.

Hurley says the infrastructure is in the ground that could support the two additional charging stations at each site, but the funds aren’t available to purchase and install them.

I-Go had received grant funding for the its two charging stations at each site and had subcontracted with 350Green to do the installation.

The city later contracted separately with 350Green to install the two additional stations at no cost to the city — with the company to recover its costs from fees drivers would pay to recharge their electric cars.

Related stories

Evanston gets electric car charging stations (April 12, 2012)

More electric car charging stations proposed (Nov. 28, 2011)

Solar car charging stations coming to town (Sept. 28, 2011)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Here we go again

    Both federal and state funding of 350GREEN appear to be going down the drain. Even with government subsidies, renewable energy companies are getting funding that dwarf fossil fuel company subsidies, these companies are years away from getting it right. I say billions for renewable energy research but no subsidies for companies selling technology that has no future.

  2. Chicago area charging

    You will note the section in the article about "recovering the charge station cost from the fees generated by the charge station users".  You can also see from the photo that the charge stations are not used…..hmmmm.   

    We have found that the early generation of EV drivers are not interested in paying a fee to charge their cars so all charge station businesses who sell their product on their customers generating revenue are misleading their clients.  

    EV drivers are willing to pay fees to park.  They are not willing to pay to plugin, in the same way they are not willing to pay an extra fee for public lighting in a parking lot or a 110V connection for a block heater, etc.

    1. You can’t generalize anything

      You can't generalize anything about "the early generation of EV drivers" based on the lack of parked cars pictured above. I-Go is a car sharing service and these stations are meant primarily for their vehicles. The fees are built into the hourly rental rates users pay. Assuming the cars are already at the location, you would not see them at the charging station when they're being used (and when the fees are being generated). However I'm not even sure the electric cars are in service yet.

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