To meet state requirement

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A Nissan Leaf charges at a station installed by EV4 in Portland. The city of Madras is considering a similar station, to be located in the parking lot behind the  city hall.A charging station for electric vehicles could be installed as early as May as part of a new agreement in the works with a Portland-based solar company.

The project, announced in 2012, hit a snag when the Madras City Council learned that the original plans for the station featured an LED reader board for advertisements, which is not allowed under a current city ordinance.

To partially make up for the investor's loss of revenue from advertising, the city tentatively agreed March 25 to contribute $20,000 to the project, rather than have a reader board.

Hans van der Meer, president of the solar company EV4, of Portland, which designs, contracts, installs and operates charging stations, explained that the station would cost about $210,000 with a canopy, or $120,000 without a canopy, and the investor counted on income generated from advertising to offset investment costs.

"We didn't realize the city of Madras didn't allow any LED (signs)," he told the council.

Under state law, the city and other public entities are required to spend 1.5 percent of the total contract price of a new facility, such as a city hall, on green energy technology. With the cost of the new city hall at about $4.2 million, that means that the city needs to spend at least $63,000 to satisfy the state requirement.

Instead of spending its own money, the city was able to contract with Lease-It Inc. to install the station in the southwest corner of the city's parking lot. During the construction process for the city hall, the city installed conduit to the site at a cost of about $1,900.

The deal with the original investor company, Lease-It, fell through, but van der Meer found another investor, L. Lu Properties, to take on the contract.

Councilors discussed the option of proceeding with the agreement as originally planned, and granting an exception for the reader board, but decided against that plan.

"I'm uncomfortable, personally, with having advertising on public property," said Mayor Melanie Widmer, noting that the city wouldn't have control over the message that would be displayed in its own parking lot.

However, the City Council expressed support for continuing with the plan to install a charging station.

"I really believe it will be an asset in the future," said Councilor Royce Embanks. "I really do think we need it here. It brings people here; it gives them a destination to charge their car."

Councilor Chuck Schmidt said that it made more sense to spend the $20,000 than to be required to spend much more to satisfy the state requirement. "To me, it's a no-brainer," he said.

The station — an ETM, or energy transfer merchant — will be equipped with a DC2DC quick charger and two level 2 chargers for electric vehicles. The council indicated that it would like the charging station to have a canopy, as well.

The city will receive 5 percent of all revenue generated at the station, with 95 percent going to the investor.

The council directed City Administrator Gus Burril to prepare a new contract for review at the City Council's April 8 meeting.

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