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Are electric vehicle charging stations in the county’s future?

Seneca County commissioners heard a proposal from AEP to provide a $150,000 incentive for installing electric vehicle charging stations.

Charlene Watkins, executive director of Seneca Regional Planning Commission, introduced the idea to the commissioners after researching the idea. The original idea came from the downtown parking plan.

Watkins said chargers promote economic development because they attract owners of electric vehicles to towns that have chargers. If it takes an hour to charge a vehicle, she said those people then might stop for lunch at a local restaurant or shop at local stores.

The proposal recommended the county install 480-volt chargers that would provide a full charge to the average vehicle in 30-60 minutes.

Al Kohler, who handles incentives for custom energy efficiency projects for AEP, speaking over the phone said the typical charging station has dual ports. A maximum of $100,000 is available per station, or $150,000 for two stations.

“We’re trying to promote intercity travel by electric vehicles,” Kohler said. “There may not be a lot now, but there are going to be a lot soon.”

He said AEP does not determine the charging fee, but “I believe you could cover your costs for the electricity.”

Commissioner Mike Kerschner asked why the private sector was not putting in charging stations if there is money to be made, and Kohler said incentives also are available for private companies at 50% of the government rate.

The commissioners decided to discuss options with officials from the cities of Tiffin and Fostoria as well as the township trustees at the Aug. 22 meeting.

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