Need a Charge? Handful of EV Stations Coming to Youngstown Soon

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Electric vehicle charging stations should begin cropping up in the city over the next several months as agencies move forward with installation work and design plans.

“We’ll be going out for design work soon,” says Chuck Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.  “We’re looking to get these installed by the winter or spring.”

The city plans to install two Level 2 charging stations on the parking lot next to Fire Station No. 1 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West Federal Street downtown. Each charging station will accommodate two ports, allowing four vehicles to charge simultaneously at the site.

Before any installation could begin, Shasho says the parking lot would need to be paved. 

Two other stations with similar capacity are planned for the Kress parking lot next to the Seventh District Court of Appeals along West Federal Street. 

The city’s Board of Control in June approved a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Administration for $60,000 toward the development of the two stations. 

In March, the OEPA announced it had awarded $132,298 in grant money to five locations in Mahoning County that would be used to support the construction of EV charging stations.

Aside from the city’s two sites, the OEPA awarded $30,000 to the Western Reserve Transit Authority toward the installation of three stations at its administration building on Mahoning Avenue.

“We’re close to getting started – any week now,” says Dean Harris, executive director of WRTA.  “We have the equipment and are finalizing things to begin installation.”

Two Level 2 chargers are to be placed in the rear of the employee parking lot, while a single charger would be placed in the front of the administration building, Harris says. Level 2 stations generally take between three and four hours to fully charge an EV battery.

The entire project for all three stations would cost about $67,000, he says. The stations are available for public use.

Another $27,298 was awarded to Mercy Health’s St. Elizabeth Hospital Youngstown toward new charging stations there and $15,000 was given to Taylor Kia of Boardman to help the dealership construct a charging station at its lot on Market Street. 

The OEPA awarded $3.25 million toward the installation of more than 500 electric-vehicle charging ports at more than 170 sites across 22 counties. 

Funding was made available through the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund.  Private and public entities in 26 counties were eligible to apply for the grants, which provide full or partial funding for the electric charging stations.

The Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund resulted from a federal lawsuit that alleged Volkswagen AG installed defective devices on certain vehicles covering model years 2009 through 2016. The devices, activated during emissions testing, made vehicles appear to be compliant with the law, when in fact, during on-road operation, the vehicles emitted nine to 40 times the allowable amount of a harmful air pollutant. 

Per a court settlement, funds were distributed to states based on the number of registered vehicles that contained the illegal devices.

Local ramp up of charging stations comes as a $1 trillion infrastructure bill is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate approved the measure Aug. 11. A portion of that bill, $7.5 billion, would be used to develop a network of EV charging stations across the country, as major automakers begin to roll out new EV models next year.  

However, proponents of developing a national EV network say that tens of billions more dollars would be required to create meaningful charging infrastructure. 

A group of 28 House Democrats have advocated spending as much as $85 billion toward creating a more robust electrical-charging network to support demand in the foreseeable future.

President Joe Biden has challenged automakers to convert half of their new vehicles to electric by 2030. General Motors has stated it would move all new production toward electric vehicles by 2035. 

“We’re supportive of the infrastructure bill,” says Jim Burgham, business manager for Local 64 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.  “It could be huge for charging stations throughout the country.”

Burgham says the IBEW has been preparing for the EV rush for some time and workers are already knowledgeable about the industry.  

“We have training courses for EV stations and courses to update journeymen on any requirements,” he says. “We also want to make sure we have the manpower available.”

He says it’s likely the installation work would be awarded to national contractors who have the design experience and equipment. However, the companies would need to draw from the local IBEW halls. 

Other innovations such as in-road charging technology – that is, the capability of charging vehicles as they move along a dedicated lane on a stretch of highway –  would also require IBEW technicians. 

“In the future, anywhere people will park a car, they’ll be a charging station,” he says. 

Pictured: This parking lot outside Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Youngstown is among the sites the city and other agencies will be installing EV charging stations.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.