Municipal PEV and Charging Equipment Case Studies

This section contains brief case studies from municipalities (mostly) in the DVRPC region. These provide an overview of what each municipality has done, and provides contact information if the reader would like additional details.

Electric Vehicle Chargers for Public Use — Borough of Phoenixville, PA

Source: Phone calls and e-mail communications with Jonathan Ewald, President, Phoenixville Borough Council. April–November 2020.

Phoenixville is a borough located 28 miles northwest of Philadelphia, in Chester County. The borough is a popular destination for eating and drinking. According to Philly Beer World, downtown Phoenixville has more breweries per square foot than anywhere else in America. It also has a popular theater and many other amenities that attract visitors. As such, there is high demand for visitor parking in the borough. 

Figure 2: Taylor Alley Lot [Source: PlugShare website]

In the mid-2010s, the borough had passed several resolutions related to renewable energy, sustainability, and energy efficiency. They installed LED street lighting throughout the borough, and installed solar PV on their new borough public works building.

The borough also installed a two-plug charging station at the Borough Hall. The administrative cost for collecting payment was greater than the cost of the electricity, so the borough decided not to charge users of the charger. Over time, the company that provided the charging station went out of business, and they were not able to get parts to repair it. It was out of service for about two years.

After the failure of this first charging station, Phoenixville revisited their electric vehicle charging strategy. The borough wanted to provide public EV charging. However, because the borough has a parking limitation and because visitors to the borough are important to the business community, the Borough Council knew that it would be problematic to reserve spots for EVs only. 

Figure 3: Mill Street Lot [Source: PlugShare website]

They came up with a way to both provide EV charging and not reduce the number of parking spaces. They located eight public EV chargers in each of two public parking lots near their entertainment district (a total of 16 chargers). Any vehicle can park in a space with an EV charger, and there is no fee for charging. However, the cost of parking in these spaces is $1.50 an hour, as opposed to $1.00 per hour in spaces without EV chargers. Spaces with chargers are marked with signage stating “EV Parking Preferred.” There are additional visual cues to encourage users of gasoline vehicles to be polite and use other spots. The combination of signage and pricing difference helps assure that the EV charging spots are the last spots filled, maximizing the availability of these spots for EV users without removing parking from the inventory available for visitors to local businesses.

These chargers were installed under Tesla’s Destination Charging program. The borough decided not to network these chargers because the equipment and administrative costs would have been higher than the cost of electricity. In each group of eight chargers, six are equipped with Tesla proprietary connectors, and two have the standard J1772 connectors. All chargers are Level 2 chargers, which will add about 25 miles of range for each hour of charging.

To keep installation costs low, the Borough selected spots close to where existing power is. All that was required for installation was trenching the grass in the parking medians and installation of electric meters. 

For additional information, contact:

Jonathan Ewald
President, Phoenixville Borough Council

Electric Vehicles in the Municipal Fleet — Haverford Township, PA

Source: Phone call with Aimee Cuthbertson, Haverford Township Assistant Township Manager, April 21, 2020 and e-mail communication November 18, 2020.

Haverford Township is an inner ring suburb of Philadelphia, in Delaware County. The township has an active Environmental Advisory Committee, which in 2019 encouraged township leaders to explore EV charging infrastructure. The township applied for and received grants for EV charging infrastructure through both the PA DEP’s Driving PA Forward program and through PECO, the electric utility.

The township purchased a used Nissan Leaf in 2019, and earmarked it for parking meter enforcement. With this use, the vehicle always stays local. It is used to collect coins from parking meters almost every day. It replaced a retired Crown Victoria police car. The staff enjoys the quiet ride, and has gotten used to the extra step of putting it on the charger at the end of the work day. Because the vehicle was purchased used, the township was not eligible for some of the federal and state vehicle incentives. 

The township purchased a new all-electric 2020 Chevy Bolt in August 2020 to replace another retired Crown Victoria police car used by the Parks and Recreation Department. The township received an Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant (AFIG) for $7,500 to cover the cost differential between a standard gasoline vehicle and the all-electric Chevy Bolt.

The township has two dual-port chargers installed at its township building, which shares a parking lot with the township-owned skating rink and ball fields. One charger is solely for the use of the township to charge the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Bolt. The other dual-port charger is for public use, and is connected to the ChargePoint network. For the first four months, in a promotional period, the public charger was free to use. The township now charges public users $1 per hour for the first 2 hours, and then after 2 hours the cost goes up to $3 per hour. The township’s goal is for the public charging to be revenue neutral, able to cover the $560 annual ChargePoint network fee and the cost of electricity. 

Because both chargers are on the same electric meter as the energy-intense skating rink, it does not have an impact on the demand charge. The ChargePoint interface allows the township to see all the metrics related to the charging station use, including  the greenhouse gas reductions from the replaced gasoline, expressed in number of trees. The charger is regularly used by a lot of the same cars. ChargePoint was selected in part because it is available through COSTARS, the Pennsylvania government procurement program, and because as part of the ChargePoint network the presence of the charger is publicized.

The two charging stations cost $31,000 to install, $12,000 of which was covered by the township, and $19,000 of which was covered by grants from PECO and the PA DEP. $9,000 of this cost was for electrical infrastructure. The trenching needed to install the electrical infrastructure was done by township personnel, and is not included in this cost. 

Subsequent to having the chargers installed, the township discovered that they were not able to charge two vehicles at the same time (one vehicle plugged into each of two ports on the dual-port charger). ChargePoint visited the site to evaluate the situation, and discovered that the electrical contractor who did the installation apparently misunderstood the charger, and provided only enough power for one port per charger. According to Colton Brown, Energy Program Specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Energy Programs Office, this mistake is not unusual.

The township plans to install two additional dual-port charging stations at the township’s Community Recreation & Environmental Center, which is near several large and heavily-used playing fields. Unfortunately, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have put the procurement and installation of these charging stations on hold for now. However, these stations are in the proposed 2021 capital budget.

For additional information, contact:

Aimee M. Cuthbertson, CPA
Director of Finance & Assistant Township Manager
Haverford Township
610-446-1000 x2240

Ford Responder Hybrid Police Vehicle — Maplewood, NJ

Source: (click “Spotlight” in left menu). Used with permission.

In 2018 the Maplewood, NJ Police Department (not in DVRPC region) acquired a hybrid Ford Responder pursuit class patrol vehicle. The vehicle was purchased through the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey purchasing cooperative.

Maplewood Police Chief, Jimmy DeVaul, reported that the new patrol vehicle has been well received by his officers. The pros of the car, according to Chief DeVaul, are the savings in gasoline, the ability to use temperature controls and communications devices without idling, and a safety feature that allows officers to exit the vehicle without putting the car in park during emergency situations. Chief DeVaul estimates a 60 percent reduction in gasoline usage when compared to similar non-hybrid patrol cars.

When asked about any downsides of the vehicle, Chief DeVaul reported that the reduced size of the back seat does not allow for detainees to be transported in this vehicle. Also, Chief DeVaul said that the Responder Maplewood purchased has slightly less acceleration than the fleet’s other patrol vehicles, but pointed out the vehicle is available in different engine sizes.

Considering all factors, the Maplewood Police Department feels the pros far outweigh the cons and plans to purchase more of these vehicles. According to the manufacturer, when compared to a non-hybrid pursuit class vehicle, the average carbon emission reduction for this vehicle is 27,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

Vehicle Electrification Support — Lansdale Borough, PA

Source: Phone calls and e-mail communications with Joe Green, Foreman, Lansdale Electric. 2020/2021.

Lansdale is a borough in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It is a densely-populated commuter town, with many residents commuting to Philadelphia by road or rail. The population was 16,269 at the time of the 2010 census.

Staff at Lansdale Electric, the borough’s municipally-owned utility, helped convince borough officials that they needed to begin supporting the electrification of transportation.

Charging Infrastructure

The borough applied for funds through Driving PA Forward to install 5 Level 2 public EV chargers from BTCPower. Each charger has 2 ports. The charging stations are located in parking lots in commercial areas, at the library, and Borough Hall.

Electric Vehicle Charger in Lansdale
(photo courtesy Sean Greene, DVRPC)

These locations were selected for several reasons. Most of the electric network in the Borough is aerial, so that made things easier, requiring little digging. The commercial areas were selected so EV owners could visit restaurants and other businesses while charging. The library was selected because many library users remain parked long enough to merit charging.

The borough does not charge users for electricity.

Because Lansdale has a municipally-owned utility, it can absorb demand fees, making it easy for them to provide free electricity for electric vehicles. The borough was able to use Lansdale Electric staff and equipment to install most of the infrastructure needed, and contracted the actual installation of the chargers themselves.

Usage of the chargers was much greater than anticipated—in the first 10 months they had been used about 1,000 times. During the first six months of operation, the Borough provided about $1,200 worth of free electricity to the public through the chargers.

The Borough has anecdotal evidence that some residents have purchased PEVs due to the public chargers.
The Borough installed municipal utility meters at the stations to compare the kWh used for billing purposes.

Borough Fleet Vehicles

In September 2019, Lansdale leased 3 Hyundai Kona PEVs to replace three internal combustion engine vehicles: a newer Ford Escape that was reassigned to the Parks and Recreation Director, and a 2003 Ford Expedition, and a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria that were sold on Municibid. The Kona is an all-electric BEV with a 250 mile range.

All-Electric Hyundai Kona at Charger in Lansdale
(photo courtesy Joseph Green, Lansdale Electric)

The Borough chose to lease the vehicles from a dealer in New Jersey because this model was not available for sale in Pennsylvania. It is serviced at a Hyundi dealership in Quakertown. The Borough received grant support of $7,500 per vehicle from the Pennsylvania Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) program as well as a $7,500 per vehicle reduction in the lease cost, as the dealer was able to receive a federal tax credit in that amount to pass on to the Borough. Together, this reduced the leasing costs to $22,000 per vehicle, which is comparable to a new ICE vehicle.

All maintenance is done at the dealership under the lease and warranty. When the lease is expired, the Borough plans to return them get into another lease, potentially something better in the coming years.
The Borough’s electric utility superintendent notes that these vehicles have required much less maintenance than Ford Escapes they replaced.

The EVs are primarily charged at the public chargers located at Borough Hll. Borough employees love to drive the EVs, but they do not like the lack of public charging infrastructure outside of the Borough.
In total, Lansdale has over 50 vehicles in their fleet—a mix of trucks (heavy and light duty) and passenger vehicles—and would over time like to see them all converted to EVs.

Some Borough staff are looking into the possibility of installing DC fast charging. VW funds would cover 75 percent of the costs. Because the Borough has a municipally-owned utility, they could cover labor costs and demand charges.

For additional information, contact:
Joseph Green, Foreman
Lansdale Electric
(267) 716-3568

Air Quality Partnership
Annual Report
Connections 2050
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
Economic Development District