Experts share cost and use of electric chargers for cities, businesses

You may notice that local grocery stores, downtown areas and even homes in your neighborhood are installing electric vehicle chargers.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 7:24 PM EST
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(WLUC) - While cutting-edge research is happening at Michigan Tech University on electric vehicles in cold climates, electric vehicle charging stations are popping up across Upper Michigan.

You may notice that local grocery stores, downtown areas and even homes in your neighborhood are installing this new technology.

And while you might be unaware, your tax dollars are helping in places like Houghton.

“This project was about $130,000 for two chargers. There was grant assistance from EGLE, the city put in some dollars, and we were able to leverage some of UPCO’s work as matching funds for the grant,” Houghton City Manager Eric Waara said.

Waara says the interest surrounding electric charging options in Houghton extends beyond his community. “The use has been going up on them,” Waara said. “We had your local EV crowd that has been using them, but what was interesting is that even when it was announced that we were seeking the grant I was getting calls as far away as Southern Minnesota.”

The city will need to continue to look forward as demand from tourism is going to make the stations essential.

“We are going to need more of these in the future,” Waara said. “Of course, we are going to look for funding assistance to do those because they are not cheap. We have also been looking at areas throughout town where there are sweet spots downtown so we can install new ones when the time comes.”

Not only have cities like Houghton added these EV chargers, but Meijer has also added 28 charging stations across the U.P. Including six in Marquette and eight in Escanaba.

In Escanaba, Meijer’s store director says there are two different kinds of chargers for use.

“We have Tesla plus the non-branded charging stations so you can use either vehicles,” Meijer Escanaba Store Director Shane Forshey said.

Forshey says the time of year has played a small effect in the chargers use.

“It is pretty consistent, generally more in the summer because of travel and tourism, but we have a lot of people that are coming around to having electric vehicles in U.P. and since we are one of the locations in the area that have these chargers, we have a significant amount of use,” Forshey said.

For those getting them installed at home costs can vary. Marquette Board of Light and Power Manager of Metering Chris Nelson says it’s hard to estimate monthly costs for charging at home because of a few factors.

“How you use a vehicle, what vehicle it is, you are going to want to have those conversations with the dealer or manufacturer or who is providing the charger,” Nelson said. “With all of those things those answered if you know how many kilowatt hours you were using you would look at your utility rate and do the math.”

Nelson says one thing to be wary of is usage.

“One thing to pay attention to is how fast you use it; the faster you need to charge, the bigger the equipment and if you have a commercial rate those demand rates can add up pretty quickly,” Nelson said.

All three of them say that regardless of current cost EVs and their chargers are going to be a big part of the next decade.