Tesla Wants To Install 39 Free Chargers In Chicago Area


Tesla offered to cover all installation costs for free chargers in the Chicago area, but there’s a catch.

Kapital Electric of Bensenville, IL (near Chicago O’Hare International Airport) submitted a request to install 39 EV charging stations in Chicago area parking lots. The proposal went to the Elgin Sustainability Commission and was officially endorsed.

Watch This: 20 Tesla Urban Superchargers Installed In Skokie, IL (Up To 120 kW?!)

These new free chargers would be installed in five parking lots downtown, as well as the Bowes Creek Country Club, Highlands of Elgin Golf Course, and Eastside Recreation Center.

Check This Out: Boring Company Hopes To Build High-Speed Loop In Chicago

The installation cost for the chargers will total $109,629. Tesla has come forward and offered to take care of all installation costs. However, the stipulation is that of the 39 total chargers, 22 would have to be for Tesla vehicles only.

The commission has already pushed the Elgin City Council to move forward with approval of the plan, but a motion was filed to pore over the details related to the purchase of monitoring technology at an additional meeting next month. City communications specialist and liaison to the commission Molly Center shared:

However, they also motioned to discuss in more detail at their June 12 meeting the option to purchase monitoring technology. The technology costs roughly $1,500 per site, and would come out of the commission’s budget. So this would likely go to council following that determination, at the June 27 committee of the whole meeting.

The chargers will become city property after they are installed and online. They’ll charge vehicles for free and feature auto shut off when cars are fully charged. Center continued:

They do not have any payment technology. The electricity would be drawn from city-owned electrical boxes, thus absorbed in the city’s regular utility bills. 

City Councilman Terry Gavin and Mayor Dave Kaptain aren’t sure about Tesla’s proposed involvement. They aren’t on board with offering free electricity to Tesla owners due to the vehicles being high-priced. Also, they have concerns about the amount of electricity the Tesla vehicles will consume and the amount of time that those vehicles would need to be parked at the chargers.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Categories: Charging, Tesla


Leave a Reply

12 Comments on "Tesla Wants To Install 39 Free Chargers In Chicago Area"

newest oldest most voted

Looks like a bad idea on multiple grounds.
1) Free charging tends to promote abuse & neglect, as many existing programs have noted. It’s a different matter if a retailer/mall/service destination does it, to promote more use of their service and so more revenue, but that doesn’t hold for a municipality.

2) If the city isn’t getting any income out of it, when a future budget crunch happens, they’ll be likely to cut the feed to the chargers and even earlier, to cut corners on maintenance.

3) A city has limited area. Installing stuff of utility to just a single brand of vehicles is a waste of real-estate.

4) Municipally owned chargers should only be installed on public land and required to serve all EV brands.

MTN Ranger

It depends. In my area, all the municipal L2 charging is free (hundred or so charging stations). I usually have no problem charging. If you make enough of them, it’s not an issue. I do agree, they should be manufacturer agnostic.


Also, they have concerns about the amount of electricity the Tesla vehicles will consume and the amount of time that those vehicles would need to be parked at the chargers.

So, how is moving a Bolt twice during charging better than just letting it sit in one spot for the whole time? Tesla’s can also charge on other protocols with an adapter. Making people pay might be an improvement, although the logistics look difficult. Gavin and Kaptain need to tell us what they want to happen.


Wouldn’t people already pay to park in the garage? Why complicate the charging infrastructure and introduce uncertainty with payment/authentication systems?


I don’t know all the reasons why, but I do know it’s highly recommend to have networked chargers to be able to collect payment and monitor the stations.


I’ll never understand the logic of giving away free charging paid by city taxpayers to people who own 60,000-90,000 dollar cars. Why not put them next to the never to be found free fuel pumps for all the poor smucks still driving ICE?

You seriously think Chicago’s electrical grid is solar and wind powered?

This is really bad idea. If Tesla wants to install free chargers, but the city should send Tesla the monthly electrical bill then the taxpayers have ZERO financial responsibility as it should be.

Eric Cote

On the surface, it seems crazy. But if the city SAVES $100,000 in installation costs, how much free electricity do they have to dispense before that savings is negated? At 10 cents per kWh, they would need to dispense 1,000,000 kWh, or 1 GWh. That’s enough to charge a Chevy Bolt EV 16,600 times from completely empty to completely full.

With that perspective in mind, it seems like a decent proposition if they save the installation costs today. However, I’m not a huge fan of requiring some to be Tesla-only, and that may also cause some consternation with taxpayers for some of the reasons you cite. If all chargers are not available to everyone, people may feel there’s a bias or preferential treatment to Tesla. Or nobody may care, but that’s the only “real” potential risk to me. The cost of the electricity is made up for substantially by the savings in installation costs.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“They’ll charge vehicles for free”

Free charging SUCKS!
Consider those spots taken for the 9hrs at work.
They need to put logic in the EVSE’s where they are charged a $h1tload if they stay parked plugged in and fully charged and towed at owners expense if parked and not plugged in.
They need to put some teeth in these things to make them viable. When it’s free, all they will do is camp there till it’s time to go home. Too many times I have seen people “top off” and the car stops charging in 1.5hrs yet they don’t move their car till 5pm.



Right. Tesla really should be looking elsewhere to install Level 2 chargers, like hotels and tourist destinations.


The “Telsa only” designation is overblown. These are Tesla Wall Chargers. They are simply standard J1772 EVSEs with a Tesla charging cable attached. Just as Teslas can use an adapter for J1772 charging heads, everyone else can use JDapters, which convert the other way.

As for the costs, the original article points out that there are already free chargers in Elgin, and that the electricity costs for 10,000 kWh annually came to $500. It would take 200 years to make up the $110k installation costs at that rate.

It’s almost a no brainer. The only thing that would be better is to also install a DCFC CCS/Chademo for faster opportunity charging. Superchargers really aren’t necessary as there is an SC station about 20 miles away. And no, it shouldn’t be free. In fact it should be priced to cover the costs for both the DCFC and the L2 chargers electricity too.



The article must be wrong. The city of Elgin can not approve chargers in downtown Chicago, any more than New York can approve chargers in Houston.