Athens city officials are planning to bring electric vehicle, or EV, charging infrastructure to the city to mitigate carbon emissions as part of the project to renovate the Athens Armory at the end of Court Street.
“The City of Athens participated in a charging infrastructure collaborative learning program where we learned about the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grant program,” Deputy Service-Safety Director, Andrew Chiki, wrote in an email.
Originally, the grant was only going to be applied to funding the charging infrastructure in Athens, but it was discovered that having more communities involved would make the program more successful.
Implementing the chargers is possible through some state government grant funding and from a partnership with the Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council, or SOPEC. A grant writer was hired through SOPEC to secure the funds.
The grant’s total comes to more than $12.5 million, with $1.3 million being allocated to projects only in Athens. The city is required to match 20% of their share of the grant, Chiki said.
“The match doesn’t necessarily mean actual cash but can include the cash value of things that are being installed to support the installation of the charging stations,” Chiki wrote in an email.
Twenty-eight other communities located between Dayton and Athens will receive money from the SOPEC grant.
“Dayton is going to get a large number of charging stations,” Mayor Steve Patterson said. "These 28 communities are going to have charging stations as well, so it just became really big.”
The other entities that received money from the grant include the Athens City School District, Ohio University, Gallipolis, Buckeye Hills Career Center, Albany, Nelsonville, Chauncey, Athens County, Belpre, Trimble, Amesville, Shawnee, Rio Grande, Gloucester, Racine, New Lexington, Somerset, Pomeroy, Piketon, New Concord and Dayton.
“It also provided the ability for smaller villages that have no way to receive funding for something like this to be able to participate and grow the network,” Chiki wrote in an email. “One of our goals is to expand the charging network throughout this region so that charging a vehicle won’t be a barrier for someone to adopt an electric vehicle in the future.”
Although Athens has several residents with electric cars, Patterson said the new chargers will be utilized more by people driving through Athens.
“If you have an EV, (charging) is something that you have to be mindful of along the way … and this (infrastructure) will certainly help with that,” Patterson said.
Sam Crowl, city council president and director of sustainability at OU, said he believes EVs are significantly better for mitigating carbon emissions than cars that run on gas.
“Overall the long-range where we really focus on greenhouse gas emissions and what we're doing to our planet, in terms of climate change, electric vehicles are definitely a better choice than regular gas vehicles,” Crowl said.
However, nothing involving sustainability is that simple, Crowl said. There are also some environmental problems with how the minerals are harvested to create EV batteries.
"We do know that the extraction has created a lot of societal problems and a lot of environmental problems where those minerals are extracted,” Crowl said.
Athens city government has recently implemented other environmentally friendly legislation, such as banning plastic bags in restaurants and other businesses. Patterson said this was done in the hope of making the world a cleaner place for future generations.
“The legislation that comes through and by-in-large being passed by City Council is an effort to not only meet what our own goals are for reducing our carbon emissions in the community, but what we're doing statewide, nationwide and globally when it comes to reducing carbon emissions,” Patterson said.