A utility company in Kansas City announced on Monday that it wants to build a large network of charging stations in the region.
Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) plans to install about 1,000 charging stations to create its Clean Charge Network. Most stations will be located in the metro area, but some may be as far away as Olathe, Kan., and Liberty, Mo. KCP&L says it will be the “largest electric vehicle charging station installation by an electric utility in the United States.”
Most of the stations will be standard, but a handful will have rapid charging capabilities. The stations, which are manufactured by ChargePoint, each have two plugs. In total, KCP&L estimates that the network will support more than 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) and be compatible with all brands.
“Our Clean Charge Network eliminates ‘range anxiety’ in the region, which is the number one roadblock to greater electric vehicle adoption. Now, electric vehicle owners will have an answer to the question, ‘Where do I recharge my vehicle?’” said Terry Bassham, president and CEO of Great Plains Energy and KCP&L, in a statement.
The standard stations deliver a 25-mile range per hour of charging. On a DC fast charging station, KCP&L predicts it will takes about 30 minutes for a car like the Nissan Leaf to go from empty to an 80-percent charge.
Courtney Hughley, a spokesperson for KCP&L, described the company’s plans and outlined current progress on the project map (above). With only a portion of committed locations, she said there’s still a lot of work to do.
“The 15 fast chargers – those have all been committed to – those are highlighted in orange. In blue are all the people that we are either wrapping up talks with or are pretty sure are going to have the standard station. We haven’t finalized all those contracts, but we just wanted to give an idea so people could see the breadth of this project and the work we’ve done so far.”
Only three of the new stations are currently operational, though the company expects to have the full network in place soon. Several years ago, KCP&L installed 10 other charging stations as part of a Clean Cities grant, which will also be folded into the network. ChargePoint, a company that also maintains a worldwide network of charging stations, will manage the entire network.
“We’ve already started construction on a lot of [charging stations], and so we feel very confident that the Clean Charge Network is going to be up and running by this summer,” said Hughley.
Both fast and standard charge sites will be free for EV owners for the first two years. To cover expenses for the project, KCP&L will be shifting a portion to residential and commercial utility customers.
“Because we’re a utility, the way we recover costs is a little bit different than other types of businesses,” Hughley said in an interview with HybridCars.com. Costs “are going to be paid for through customer rates.
“This project is a $20 million project over 10 years. When we look at how much that’s costing our customers, it’s less than $2 per customer per year.”
Businesses that host a charging station will cover the electrical costs for those first two years. Nissan Motor Company will fund about 15 of the fast charging stations, paying for both the construction and two years of electricity.
KCP&L is still seeking out site hosts, but will only install stations in locations that meet specific conditions.
“We look at a number of criteria,” explained Hughley. “One of the biggest one’s being accessibility. We’re not putting these in places that are not open to the public. If you’re an employer and your parking lot or parking garage is only open to your employees, unfortunately, you’re not able to get one of these.
“The big reason for that is because we want to make sure that everybody who has an electric vehicle has the opportunity to benefit from the Clean Charge Network. But, obviously, there are some other things from engineering and design perspective that we have to look at as well.”
Though the project will add a small amount to its customer’s yearly electric bills, KCP&L predicts the network will help ultimately lower utility costs.
“People generally charge their cars at non-peak periods when KCP&L’s electrical grid is being underutilized. By stimulating electric vehicle adoption with their Clean Charge Network, what KCP&L is doing is encouraging people to use the electrical grid more efficiently and drive down the cost of electricity for everyone,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Energy Economist Ashok Gupta.