Township Looks To Add More Electric Car Charging Stations

The township will increase its inventory of electric car charging stations in the next year.

The township is adding another electric car charging station to its inventory, with more to come, but the “free ride” now given to electric car owners may end.

The Township Council at its November 26 meeting formally accepted a $12,000 grant to install a charging station in Middlebush Park.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said that he’s looking to include money for another charging station in the municipal lot, this one near the township library, in the 2020 capital budget plan.

There are currently two charging stations in that lot.

Vornlocker said there will also be an electric car charging station installed in the new parking lot at the Franklin Township Little League complex, as well as one at the township youth center, when it is built.

The conversation was spurred by Stanislav Jaracz, a member of the township Environmental Commission and an advocate for electric car use. Jaracz told the council that he had observed people staying in the two current charging spots for more than the allotted two hours.

“What I noticed was that those two spots for charging were occupied and there were another two cars waiting,” he said. “What is interesting is the two-hour time limit is not really being enforced.”

Vornlocker told him that there was no enforcement ordinance available to police the charging stations.

“It’s on the honor system,” he said. “My office is outside that charging station, and I monitor it regularly. Generally speaking, people are there for less than two hours. Are there ever times when people are there for more than two hours? There certainly are.”

The stations are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Vornlocker said.

“I think for the most part, people abide by the system that the charger will only charge your car for two hours in a 24-hour period, so therefore there’s no benefit to have it there for longer than two hours,” he said.

“We’ve certainly had discussions about extending the enforcement aspect of it, but to be perfectly honest with you, it doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue,” Vornlocker said. “I’ve had conversations with people where I’ve said, you realize when you plug in your car, it’s only charging for two hours, if you leave it in for three or four hours, you’re only making it unavailable for someone else to plug in.”

Vornlocker said it may come to the point where users of the charging stations will be charged a fee. He said the township’s electric bill is about $25 a month for the stations.

The $12,000 grant came through Somerset County from the state “It Pays To Plug In” program.

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