Fees for Juneau’s electric vehicle chargers delayed

An electric vehicle charging station at the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

An electric vehicle charging station at the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

An Assembly committee has asked for further study of a controversial initiative to require Juneau’s electric vehicle owners to buy a permit to use city-owned charging stations.

The proposed ordinance surfaced late last year. It would levy a $50 permit fee for municipal charging stations in downtown Juneau, Douglas, the Mendenhall Valley public library, and Eaglecrest Ski Area.

About 200 electric vehicles are registered in Juneau.

The idea has supporters on the Juneau Assembly.

Assemblywoman Beth Weldon said there’s a perception among conventional car owners that electric vehicles are getting a free ride.

“What I’m getting from the public is they get premier parking spaces and they want to say where can they sign up for 50 bucks a year and get these premier parking places?” Weldon said during a Monday committee meeting. “My office gal says she would be glad to throw a fake charger up and pretend to plug it in so she could park in these things.”

Committee Chairman Loren Jones said he wasn’t against charging fees. But he wanted more public input before it goes to the full Assembly.

“I don’t disagree,” said Jones, who owns an electric vehicle. “I don’t know whether the fee is $50 or $25 or $40. But I’d like to get more from the public so we’re not having to do that here at an Assembly meeting.”

The ordinance wouldn’t affect privately owned chargers that are also free for public use.

The Juneau Commission on Sustainability warned in an April 5 memo to the Assembly that if the city charges but others don’t, it could lead to a “fragmented EV charger system.” That, it warned, would “cause confusion and frustration and possibly undercut EV adoption.”

The three-member Public Works and Facilities Committee agreed to send the initiative back to the sustainability commission for further study.

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