The city of Cleveland’s Department of Public Utilities is looking to install electric vehicle charging stations as part of its transition to an all-electric vehicle fleet.
Converting the fleet away from gas-powered vehicles is likely to be a lengthy process, as the city’s three utilities — Cleveland Public Power, Cleveland Water, and Water Pollution Control — count hundreds of vehicles among their fleet.
But the start of the process is already underway, utilities Director Martin Keane told a City Council committee on Tuesday.
Last fall, the department ordered its first batch of all-electric vehicles: 24 SUVs, pickup trucks and other replacements.
Those vehicles have yet to be delivered, amid supply-chain issues, and the city does not have an expected delivery date, Keane said. But to ensure those vehicles can function once they do arrive, the department is asking City Council to approve money for 31 electric vehicle charging stations at nine different city buildings.
The committee on Tuesday approved the purchase, but it still requires a vote of the full council.
The stations will not be open for public use. Keane said utility crews will need access to them around-the-clock, including overnight, so they’ll be placed in “secure” locations, inaccessible to the general public.
The price tag is expected to be $1.4 million — a figure that includes the costs of the stations themselves, and lines and other infrastructure needed to operate them at the aging facilities where they will be installed.
The stations will be placed at the Department of Public Utilities headquarters at 1201 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland Public Power headquarters at 1300 Lakeside, two other CPP facilities on St. Clair Avenue and North Marginal, and the following Cleveland Water Department facilities: Nottingham, Parma, Harvard Yards, Garrett Morgan and Crown.
Once initial installation is complete, that infrastructure could be used in the future to add more charging stations to the same area, Keane said.
Councilman Mike Polensek, during Tuesday’s hearing, balked at the upfront costs of the installation, which he called “incredible.” He urged city officials to exercise caution and carefully weigh the costs of going electric. “Everybody wants to go green, but I want to go lean. I want to make sure we’re not busting the budget” he said.
Keane assured Polensek that his department would be keeping tabs on any potential financial trade-offs, and pointed to the high price of gasoline as one reason to make the switch.
Councilwoman Jenny Spencer, meanwhile, praised the move as a step in the right direction, but noted that the city is far from going completely green until its energy is supplied from renewable sources instead of coal.