Where Do You Want Electric Vehicle Charging Stations? The State Of Wisconsin Wants To Know

Feb 24, 2020

The Evers administration has started asking the public for advice on how and where to spend up to $10 million for electric vehicle charging stations in Wisconsin. 

Electric vehicles, or EV, still only make up a tiny fraction of automobiles in the state. But analysts say the number will grow if there are more places to recharge the cars.

READ: Push For EVs Predicted To Continue In Wisconsin Amid Questions

Gov. Tony Evers wants the $10 million to come from part of Wisconsin's share of a settlement over an emissions scandal involving Volkswagen.

His administration says the electric vehicle charging stations can only be put on government properties, at workplaces, and at multi-family unit dwellings — not at individual homes where many EV owners already charge their cars.  

Left: A map of where electric vehicles are registered in Wisconsin. Right: The chart shows how many public charging stations are located in Wisconsin and nearby states. The map shows more specifically where electric vehicle chargers are located in Wisconsin.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

Officials kicked off a series of statewide listening sessions on electric vehicle charging stations on Feb. 21 at UW-Milwaukee. Kevin Standlee says he drives a Chevrolet Volt, which can run 50 miles per battery charge but has a gasoline engine for longer trips. Standlee says one key issue is where to place stations that recharge EVs quickly, versus a slower station called a Level 2. 

“In the areas where you have short-term, two-hour parking meters, those are areas you'd want the fast charging.  And then longer-duration parking, a Level 2 would be good,” Standlee said at the listening session.

"We want to make sure we are putting stations where they'll be used, and that drivers will want to stop." - Jane McCurry, RENEW Wisconsin

Standlee also works for a firm that installs charging stations. So far in cities like Milwaukee, he says it's hard to put in a charger near street parking. 

The fast charging stations can be expensive to put around the state, says Jane McCurry, program manager with renewable energy group RENEW Wisconsin.

"So we want to make sure we are putting stations where they'll be used, and that drivers will want to stop. Having stations right off key highway corridors, so they're easily accessible as a short stop on your road trip,” McCurry told WUWM.

A Level 2 EV charging station at the Milwaukee Car and Truck Show.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

The Customers First! Coalition, which includes RENEW, the Citizens Utility Board, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and utilities says Wisconsin also needs to broaden access to the chargers.

Coalition official Kristin Gilkes says people don't want their EV to run out of juice.

"You have rural drivers who need access. Workplace programs will also help alleviate range anxiety in a way," Gilkes said.

READ: EV Owners Make A Plug For More Charging Stations In Wisconsin

The state plans to hold five more listening sessions over the next two weeks. But there remains one more hurdle: Conservatives have challenged a series of the governor's state budget vetoes, including one that set aside the $10 million for chargers. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says Evers was right.

"Why should we have to look for another $10 million? That $10 million can go to something else. This $10 million in Volkswagen settlement money frees up another $10 million that can go to our schools,” Barnes told WUWM.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the veto case April 20. 

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