Story and photos by Doug Petrowski
The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Monday, April 15 meeting is expected to approve the rate of 85 cents per hour (with a minimum charge of $1.50) for using the new electric vehicle charging stations. The charging stations will begin operating early next month, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m.
The city received 10 dual-charging stations through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and placed them along the south edge of the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center parking lot, located at 236th Street Southwest and Interstate 5. The grant covered the cost of the stations, their maintenance and the subscription to a payment company through 2013.
The public will be able to access the stations for charging electric vehicles sometime during the week of Apr. 30-May 5. Payments are made by using a ChargePoint Network card or any credit card with a RFID tag.
The city will charge 85 cents per hour, with a minimum of $1.50 per session, through April 30, 2013. From May 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014, the charge will be $1 per hour, with a minimum of $1.75 per session. After Apr. 30, 2014, the city will make annual adjustments to the rates according to operational costs.
Setting rates for use of the charging stations is a delicate balance for the city; rates must cover the cost of the electricity and maintenance (after 2013), but the city is not allowed to make a profit from the stations. The transit center is actually the property of the Washington State Department of Transportation; any profits generated on site must go to the DOT.
ChargePoint Network will be handling the financial operations of the system. The City of Mountlake Terrace will pay a subscription fee to ChargePoint (after the Department of Energy grant expires in 2013) for this service.
The city will activate five of the 10 stations initially, and city crews will monitor demand for the stations in comparison to the need for general parking in the lot. Mountlake Terrace police will issue citations to anyone parking in an activated charging station parking spot not being used to charge a vehicle. If demand for the stations is light, some charging stations will be turned off at times and those parking spots will be available for general parking use.