Here’s a new feeling for Payson — cutting edge.
The Payson Town Council gave the go-ahead for staff to collaborate with APS on installing charging stations on town property during its last August council meeting.
APS presented the council with its Take Charge AZ program. APS provides free equipment, installation and maintenance of the chargers, while participants pay for any electric costs that come from using the equipment. The move seeks to prepare the town for a future without petroleum powered cars as more car makers move away from oil toward electricity by the 2030s.
According to estimates, the U.S. currently has about 100,000 chargers like the Tesla chargers in the Bashas’ parking lot. However, research indicates the U.S. needs 1 million charging stations to support the flood of electric cars set to hit the streets.
So far, staff have identified the library, event center and town hall as viable locations for charging stations. Users could take as little as 15 minutes or up to hours a charge depending on their vehicle and the type of station the town installs.
On its website, APS explains it will install a separate meter for the Electric Vehicle chargers that uses the time-of-use service plan “to encourage use of the equipment when solar energy is abundant and energy prices are lower.”
The Take Charge AZ program seeks to engage non-residential customers, such as businesses that use a fleet of vehicles, multi-family communities and towns like Payson in this pilot program.
The program will install four EV charging plugs for free. APS has three different chargers to choose from. The fast-charging plug does not cost the town anything, only a property lease with APS.
Council member Scott Nossek asked what the downside was to this idea.
“The leases on the fast chargers are for 10 years,” said Sheila DeSchaaf, assistant town manager and public works director. “You are committing to that space. Any change the town would like to make to that space the town would be on the hook for moving the chargers.”
Mayor Tom Morrissey wondered why the town needed to take part in this program when Tesla already had chargers in the Bashas’ parking lot.
DeSchaaf explained the APS chargers are not specific to any one car manufacturer. Tesla has different expectations for electric cars from other manufacturers.
Council member Barbara Underwood had concerns the locations staff chose did not provide convenience to the customers.
“The rodeo grounds is not somewhere I feel people would go. A lot of times, not much is going on. You pull up to a dirt parking lot,” she said.
Underwood suggested staff look at some place that would allow the public a chance to shop or eat.
Council member Suzy Tubbs-Avakian suggested putting in chargers at Green Valley Park.
“I would think that would be a great place for them to be,” she said.
The council came together to unanimously vote to have staff look into the issue when Morrissey said, “This is just a structure by which we can have a conversation … and bring in other ideas to discuss.”