Evanston aldermen this week approved plans to install solar canopies at two parking lots in the city that would provide charging stations for plug-in electric cars.

The non-profit I-Go Car Sharing service has received grant funding from the state and other sources to set up  18 such charging stations, with 36 plug-in electric cars around the metro area.

I-Go CEO Sharon Feigon, an Evanston resident, told aldermen that under terms of the grant the group has to get signed contracts quickly and get the canopies built this year.

The aldermen readily agreed to locating one of the canopies at the city lot on Central Street at Stewart Avenue.

But they postponed until their Oct. 10 meeting a decision on where to locate the second canopy.

I-Go had proposed putting that one at the library parking lot on Chicago Avenue downtown, but Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, claimed that lot is too busy already and suggested moving it to the lot on Oak Avenue across from the post office.

Feigon said the post office lot would be unsuitable, because I-Go cars parked there in the past had drawn so little usage that they had to be removed.

Parking manager Rickey Voss said he believes the library lot is generally only 50 to 60 percent occupied, based on a study conducted two years ago, but he conceded that current construction work on the Church Street garage across from the parking lot may have had an impact on its usage.

Under the plan I-Go would pay the city $80 a month for each parking spot reserved for its cars to cover lost meter revenue and would cover all the costs of installing and operating the solar canopies and charging stations.

Top: An image provided by I-Go of what a solar canopy for a parking lot looks like.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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