Taxpayer Funded Public Charging Stations Come Under Fire in Ohio For Lack of Usage

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 10

Some Typical Public Chargers

Some Typical Public Chargers

We’re starting to see a trend emerge in which the general public argues that some currently under-utilized public charging stations are/were a waste of taxpayer money.

Such is the case in southwest Ohio where its being argued that taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for public chargers that are used a handful of times per month.

As the Dayton Daily News reports:

“Clean Fuels Ohio awarded nearly $250,000 in federally financed grants to businesses and cities to buy and install more than 50 electric car-charging stations from 2009 to 2013. The grants paid for half of the electric car charging costs.”

“Ten charging stations were installed at locations in Dayton, Centerville, Franklin, Monroe and Tipp City. Traffic has been slow at many of those stations; in the year that Centerville has opened two charging stations to the public each charger has only been used an average of five times a month.”

We all know by now where the argument goes from here.  Proponents of charging station installs point to future usage being substantially higher, while opponents see only the lack of use today and suggest it was an absolute waste of money.

Jennifer Wilder, assistant to Centerville’s city manager, stated:

“We knew going into it that electric vehicles are an emerging market and it will take awhile for the market to grow.  We wanted to be on the forefront.”

A position we strongly support.

Greg Lawson, a policy analyst at the Buckeye Institute, believes electric vehicles are the future, but thinks that governments should not be monetarily supporting them:

“Why is government getting involved in doing these things? When you’re essentially getting grant money to individual types of businesses, you’re in a sense picking winners and losers.  If it’s such a great deal and it’s going to help bring people to a particular location, that’s a business decision someone should make on their own.”

We applaud the various governments in stepping forward to support plug-in vehicles and understand that it’s a touchy subject.  But with the chargers already in the ground, what are the opponents actually asking for?  Local governments to pay (from taxpayer dollars, of course) for the removal of the chargers or are they seeking an imaginary refund on the money the government already spent?

The chargers are there.  In the future, each unit will be utilized, perhaps so heavily that more will be installed.  That’s our take, at least.

Source: Dayton Daily News

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10 responses to "Taxpayer Funded Public Charging Stations Come Under Fire in Ohio For Lack of Usage"

  1. Spec9 says:

    They also have to look at the locations they were installed at. Often times these chargers are installed in places that are convenient to install a charger . . . not in places where chargers are actually needed.

  2. Foo says:

    Is it me, or does the main photo look like a police line-up?

    ICE driver: “It was the green one, with that plug look on his face. He killed the gasoline car!”

  3. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    Want to bet that not a single person involved in planning this Ohio network actually drives an EV regularly?

    Sorry, Spec9, location is a minor factor. The major factor is that charge stations for the most part are always going to see super low utilization. The one exception is what Tesla figured out – long distance travel.

    The simple fact is that people charge at home. They start every day with full range. Any sensible EV owner that has to drive more than their car’s range every day will get rid of the car. It’s just too inconvenient.

    Of course people will trot out the “but a quick charger changes everything” argument. We shall see on that one but I doubt it seriously. No one wants to sit around for 30 minutes while their car charges. They should have been called Quicker Chargers because they are basically pretty slow compared to filling an ICE with gas.

    1. pjwood says:

      “filling an ICE with gas”

      ..and getting that stuff on your hands. Eew.

      Fast chargers will change everything. And Seattle probably has enough well-used L2’s, it is a little surprising you’d conclude home charging makes them unnecessary?

      In my city, I see Teslas crowding me out Mondays, when they’re probably drinking down close to the full 85. I think to myself, it must be nice to net the parking fees down, almost to zero.

      I think there will be lots of ~100+ mile EV’s with fast charging, stopping for those rare occasions they go on long trips. If taking 3-5yr fuel costs from 5-10 thousand dollars, down to 2, or 3, doesn’t appeal to all, well, they can pay to fill-up. On median incomes of ~50k, with half the country making less, I wouldn’t bet these charges stay unused. I wouldn’t, any more than I’d bet these same people will end up with 200-300 mile EV’s.

    2. Jeff D says:

      Sure most charging can be done at home, but public charging is necessary for longer trips and people that live in apartments and condos or have to park on the street. A community that invests in charging infrastructure needs to have some knowledge of where L3 should be placed vs where L2 should be placed to best meet the needs of the community. Communities also want to draw people in to spend money in their businesses. That includes people with EVs. Just charging at home does not meet that need.

  4. Anon says:

    Except for minority of progressives (like Marcy Kaptur), Ohio is full of tard-bait politicians who don’t or wont look at the long term of anything, but how much money they can make from lobbyists. 🙁

  5. Anderlan says:

    Jesus said it well the people who are the agitators of this: “You hypocrite, first take the $4 billion subsidy out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the $4 million subsidy from your brother’s eye.”

    1. Jeff D says:

      Agree. The people complaining about the government spending money on this will be the first to complain that the government didn’t spend money on something they want.

    2. RussB says:

      Charging a BEV in Ohio (where a large portion of the electricity comes from coal plants) is going to mean in most cases at best a wash, and at worst an increase in overall GHG emissions. This is just using taxpayer money (which includes the subsidy to purchase and the additional fuel tax that petrol buyers will have to make up) to make things worse. The point is not who is getting the subsidy, but is the subsidy going to help solve the problem? If you believe subsidies are the right answer, places like Ohio could be subsidizing turbodiesels. It is going to take a tailored solution to solve this problem.

  6. kdawg says:

    Stupid logic. Let’s see….I drive by empty gas pumps all the time. What a waste of money. Should tear them down. LOL

    But seriously, I opportunity charge when ever I can. I’m not going to go *too* far away from my destination to plug into an L2 charger, but I’ll walk a couple blocks. The chargers around me are free BTW (or I’m paying for the parking). I know the businesses that have free chargers get a lot more of my business.