Fenton — Will there ever be electric vehicle charging stations in the Fenton area? Yes.
Officials from Linden, Fenton and Fenton Township all say they’re exploring options to install EV charging stations in their respective municipality.
Vic Canever Chevrolet at 3000 Owen Rd. has one of the only EV fast charging stations in the area. PlugShare shows that LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Fenton and Lasco Ford also have EV charging stations.
The next closest one is at the Consumers Energy Groveland Service Center on Dixie Highway. There are also two EV chargers in Grand Blanc on Holly Road, one at the Fairfield Inn 7 Suites Flint Grand Blanc- Marriott and at Home2 Suites by Hilton.
Jeff Canever, president of Vic Canever Chevrolet, said they’ve had EV chargers since 2011. They are open to the public.
“We are in the process of upgrading and adding more chargers as we really see the demand for electric vehicles is coming quickly. We are adding higher capacity and faster charging cycles. It’s a really cool time in the auto industry,” he said.
They are updating their DC fast charger to a 180kW battery. They also have two Level 2 chargers and are adding more this year. All together, it’s about a $100,000 investment.
How fast the equipment charges EVs depends on the vehicle and size of battery. The new battery will charge an EV 80% in under 30 minutes, Canever said.
“We do have people who regularly use our charger,” he said. These EVs usually come with built-in apps with a map of where to find EV chargers. The Alternative Fuels Data Center map managed by the U.S Department of Energy also shows locations of EV chargers.
Mike Hart, assistant city manager and DDA executive director, said they’ve had discussions about bringing an EV charging station to the city as well as inquiries from residents and businesses.
“We’ve definitely gotten some inquiries, especially over the last year and so we are looking at this very seriously,” he said. “They can be very expensive. It wouldn’t be uncommon that it’s done in a public/private partnership.”
The city could potentially install one as a trial run on city property behind City Hall and the Fenton Police Department. If it’s a public/private arrangement, a private business could install and maintain a charging station on their property and tap into municipal electricity. In this case, the business and city would split the proceeds. This would have to be approved by the Fenton City Council.
It’s possible that Consumers Energy could install a charging station in Fenton at no cost to the city and taxpayers.
Linden officials are also in contact with Consumers to determine if they would be a good fit for this program.
Linden City Manager Ellen Glass said the city has discussed EVs and exploring grant opportunities for charging station installation. Residents have inquired about adding charging stations.
“Infrastructure, location, and use are some of the challenges that we see. It’s hard to gauge how much use they will receive and the placement would be taking up potential public parking,” she said. “At this point it would be a city initiative but there is always the potential for business partnerships.”
Public Works Director Don Grice said the type of the charging station, the location and funding are all challenges in bringing a charging station to Linden.
“The expectations on charging experiences for users is changing. Communities should at a minimum be installing Level 2 chargers, or preferably, Level 3 to provide a quick and efficient charging experience,” he said.
There are three levels of EV charging, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers. Level 1 devices can plug into a typical household 120V outlet, according to caranddriver.com. It’s considered ubiquitous and convenient, however it’s slower compared to other levels.
Level 2 charging equipment operates at 240 volts and charge EV batteries approximately six to eight times faster compared to Level 1 equipment.
Level 3 chargers, also called DC fast-charging, are the fastest.
“...this sort of charging can add around 100–250 miles of range in 30–45 minutes. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 charging, Level 3 setups connect to the vehicle by way of a socket with additional pins for handling the higher voltage (typically 400 or 800 volts,” according to caranddriver.com.
Grice said finding an appropriate location also is a challenge. They want the EV charging space to be convenient to the user.
“However, EVs currently make up only 1% of total vehicles in the country, so you do not want to ruffle 99% of motorists by dedicating a valuable public parking spot that may remain vacant most of the time,” he said, adding that bringing EV charging stations to Linden in a timely manner would require a collaboration of public and private efforts.
“As far as Linden goes, we are currently engaged in discussions with Consumers Energy to determine if we would be a good fit for new public access charging stations. No decision has been made at this time,” he said.
Fenton Township Supervisor Vince Lorraine said they are “absolutely” looking to bring charging stations to the township.
“I’ve made it known that it’s a priority. There’s federal dollars out there for it. We are looking strategically throughout the township to place charging stations,” he said. “I’m a big fan of electric cars.”