Riverside seeks federal grant funds for EV charging stations
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Riverside seeks federal grant funds for EV charging stations

May 31, 2023

With Riverside's first public electric vehicle charging station, the result of a public/private partnership between the village and Riverside Foods, set to go live soon, local officials are seeking federal grant funding for at least two more.

Last month, village trustees gave Public Works Director Dan Tabb the go ahead to work with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to apply for about $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program.

The grant program was included in the federal 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides for two types of grants. One, which Riverside is not eligible for, is to build out EV charging infrastructure along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors, typically interstate highways.

The other, which towns like Riverside are eligible for, is a grant program seeking to expand EV and alternative fuel infrastructure at a local level. Tabb said the village will initially submit grant applications via both Burke Engineering and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. Whatever avenue shows more promise is the one Riverside will eventually stick with.

It's assumed that because the MMC will apply for a number of projects within its membership of 275 municipalities in the Chicago region, that will be where Riverside might have some success in obtaining funding.

Riverside will apply for funds to build EV charging station infrastructure in two locations – the main commuter parking lot west of the downtown Metra station at 90 Bloomingbank Road and the village's Green Parking Lot at 63 E. Burlington St.

The plans will call for installation of two Level 2 chargers, accommodating four vehicles, at each location, with additional infrastructure in place to accommodate two more charging stations in each location if the village chooses to install them later.

Although the Green Parking Lot is directly across the street from Riverside Foods, Village Manager Jessica Frances said the location still makes sense for additional stations.

"While we don't necessarily have the volume for today, we should be planning for 10, 15 years down the line and there is going to be that need," Frances told elected officials at their May 18 meeting where the subject was discussed. "Riverside Foods is not going to be sufficient, so we should be planning accordingly."

Tabb estimated the total cost to install the EV charging stations and additional infrastructure at both locations at about $550,000. That cost includes hardware, infrastructure, maintenance agreements, cellular data packages and projected inflation through 2030, Tabb said.

The federal grant program requires a 20% local match, meaning Riverside's share of the cost would be about $112,000.

While that's a lot of money, Trustee Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga said it would be wise for Riverside officials to seek grant funding now instead of waiting.

"Just based on what I’ve been learning through the Cross Community Climate Collaborative, and the grant programs that are available now that may not be available to build out that infrastructure in the future," said Marsh-Ozga, who along with Trustee Cristin Evans represents the village in the C4 initiative. "So, I think to the extent that we can apply for a competitive grant with a group [like the MMC] that stands a large chance of success, that we absolutely should do it now."