Prairie Village city council shows interest in electric vehicle charging station proposal, but not ready to sign on yet

Each of KCP&L's electric vehicle charging stations has ports for two vehicles. Photo via KCP&L.
Each of KCP&L’s electric vehicle charging stations has ports for two vehicles. Photo via KCP&L.

The Prairie Village City Council on Monday took a step back from a KCP&L proposal to install three electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot at the city’s municipal complex.

The proposal was part of a plan to install a network of more than 1,000 stations across the metro, an effort KCP&L says is designed to lower the barriers to ownership for electric vehicles. And while the bulk of the city council expressed support for the goals of the program, they balked at KCP&L’s demanded timeline. The utility had requested the council approve their proposal by Tuesday, just days after it had been submitted to the city.

“I think this is a laudable environmental goal,” said Councilor Eric Mikkelson. “Anytime there’s a new technology, sometimes government has to give it a little push, so I’d like to find a way to make this work… But why is this so urgent that we have to get this done by tomorrow?”

KCP&L had suggested the city would not face any charges for the installation of the three stations, but had asked that the city foot the bill for the cost of the electricity to run them, an estimated $50 per month.

A number of councilors also had concerns about the proposed placement of the stations, at city hall where people are unlikely to spend a good deal of time. The Level II stations that were part of the proposal would require electric vehicle drivers to be connected to a charging port for an hour or more to gain significant boosts to their batteries. The councilors suggested the public library or one of the city’s shopping centers may make more sense than the city hall parking lot since people would be able to shop or read while their car charged.

Ultimately, the council instructed staff to go back to KCP&L to see if the proposal was negotiable. But Councilor Ted Odell came out strongly in support of the objectives of the charging network.

“I think it’s a plus for the city,” he said. “Why not be on the leading edge?”