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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  1. Electric car charging

    The story doesn't make it clear — would these charging stations be able to be used by local drivers who have plug-in cars, or only by the I-Go cars?  If the latter, it's really a missed opportunity to encourage more electric car use.

    1. Charging which cars?

      Each solar canopy will cover four parking spaces, but it will initially only have two charging stations for two I-Go cars. Feigon says it's possible they'll add charging stations so that private cars could be charged in the other two spaces, but that's not decided yet.

      — Bill

    2. There MAY be a public charging station if council pursues it

      On the issue of a public charging station, there is a proposal by another company working with I-Go to put two public charging stations at each location.

      A representative of the charging company was actually at the August meeting of the Transportation Committee, but some key members of that committee–Alderman Fiske and Wynne–didn't bother to show up for the meeting.

      Because of the absentee aldermen they failed to have a quorum and couldn't move on the project.

      This is really a problem for I-Go, since they received a federal grant that is paying for the stations and the money has to be expended by the end of the year.

      Because Fiske and  Wynne skipped the August meeting, the discussion was postponed and the continual screwing around by the council could put the whole station in jeapordy.

      If the aldermen had bothered to attend the August meeting the city could have moved with the charger provider.  But they must have had something better to do–and the city's residents will be the ones to suffer.

  2. Fiske opposes bikes AND electric cars!

    First we get Fiske opposing a bike corral because of undefined "costs" and then we get  her not wanting to have an important non-polluting amenity operate in town.

    I wonder if she has actually read the city's planning documents for Downtown.  The Multimodal Transportation Plan explicitly points out that there is a surplus of parking downtown and that the garages are not being used efficiently.

    The Plan also calls for the city to provide incentives for low-emission/zero-emission vehicles.

    This should be pretty much a no-brainer; unless, of course, you don't put your brains into analyzing the positive impact the project will bring.

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