Cornell City Council; Is an electric vehicle charging station right for Cornell?
By Julia Wolf
The Cornell City Council members discussed whether installing an electric vehicle charging station is something that would benefit the city, the tourism industry and local residents, during a meeting Jan. 20.
Great Lakes Utilities (GLU) has a 2022 initiative, to install a dual Level 2 charger in each member city, if desired by the city. GLU provided an informational brochure on electric charging stations.
Dave DeJongh, city administrator, says there would be costs for the city, if the council decides to move forward with the project. GLU states that the make-ready costs will be borne by the member city, such as the prep work, with an ongoing rental fee paid by GLU, but recovered through the wholesale bill. The rental fee is $200 per month, and the contract length is five years.
“There is federal money out there,” said Aimee Korger, council member.
Korger attended the GLU annual meeting and one of the guest speakers at the event talked on the subject. She says the speaker talked about how the Biden Administration is pushing for electric vehicles.
Mayor Mark Larson asked if they talked about gas stations installing electric chargers. Korger says the company suggests other locations, such as near a park or on Main Street, so those charging can patronize a local business or enjoy the local scenery, while their vehicle is charging.
“What they are proposing, is a Level 2 charger and it would take, for a full charge, it would be four hours,” said DeJongh, adding his understanding is most people “top off” the charge for an hour or so.
Terry Smith, alderperson, says he thinks they should study the issue further, to see if the electric charger would be worth the $200 monthly rental fee.
DeJongh added that people would pay to use the charger. Council member Ashley Carothers said there are pros and cons to electric vehicles in general, and suggested they look at the perks and the downfalls of having an electric charging station.
Korger said the speaker at the GLU meeting seemed to know a lot about the subject, so GLU might have contacts willing to talk to the council, if the city would like to learn more about electric charging stations.
“Even if it was information that was given where the public could even come and listen, and hear and see,” said Korger. “Maybe there are people who would be interested in this.”
Smith says he doesn’t think many people in Cornell, if any, have an electric vehicle. Korger says the charging station is geared more toward those visiting or traveling through, not locals.
“Think of those out-of-towners that are visiting family that have electric vehicles that need charging,” said Korger.
Korger also pointed out that the brochure they received is like an advertisement for the company. She says there may be opportunities to do a different type of charger, or through a different company, that doesn’t have the rental fee.
Bill Kvapil, council member, said he would like more information on the electric vehicle charging stations, to determine if they are something Cornell is interested in.
In an update on the little league ballfield fence project, DeJongh reported the fence company has started work on the dugouts and the steel for the roofs has been ordered.
Carothers also reported the Field of Dreams bowling fundraiser went well and raised about $3,600 for the project, as well as spreading the message about the project.
DeJongh also reported the city is running into another supply chain issue, when it comes to streetlights. The goal is to replace some of the bulbs with LEDs, especially those on Main Street. The bulbs were originally expected in December, but now have a predicted arrival near the end of February. DeJongh says the plan is to rewire some of the lights along Main Street for the LED setup, instead of replacing the bulbs, in the meantime.
Carothers also brought up reports of coyotes in the city. The Cornell Police Department is working with the DNR and exploring any next steps. The DNR advises community members to remove potential food sources, like open garbage cans, bird feeders and pet food bowls; avoid feeding other wildlife that serves as prey for coyotes; clear brush and undergrowth in yards that can harbor prey; and use scare tactics if you see a coyote. Additional information is available on the Cornell Police Department Facebook page.
Carothers also encouraged everyone to donate blood, as there is a national blood crisis. There is an upcoming Red Cross drive Monday, Jan. 31, at the Holcombe United Methodist Church. To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800733-2767.