At the Climate Action Now! forum in early November, we discussed the possibility of installing one or two electric vehicle charging stations in the Society parking lot. The impetus for investigating this opportunity now is Ameren’s incentive program, which currently will pay for up to 50% of the cost of such a project for its business customers, including not-for-profit organizations like ours.
Our purpose in opening the conversation was to gauge whether there was enough interest within the membership to even begin the investigative process. We had a lively discussion, with strong opinions articulated on both the pro and con sides and a sizable number in the middle who wanted more information before taking a stance. So we began to look, starting with the building’s electrical supply, as recommended by several members and friends who are familiar with our building’s systems.
We quickly determined that it is not feasible to install EV chargers in our parking lot without first upgrading the electrical supply to the building. As we discovered, our electrical panel does not have the capacity to handle the increased demand that charging would impose, and upgrading the panel would cost significantly more money than the $7000 estimate for installing the charging stations.
Although many forum participants argued that supporting the transition to clean energy is in keeping with our values, taking action is not without both real financial costs and opportunity cost. Even if we could raise the funds (and we received several generous offers), what projects with potentially larger positive impacts, benefiting a greater number of people, might we cause to be postponed or declined in pursuit of this one?
It is important to note that the Board keeps a prioritized list of capital projects that are not funded via the operating budget. Such projects have historically been paid for via capital campaigns, bequests or other special gifts. So EV charging could still potentially be in the Ethical Society’s future. If the membership is strongly in favor of installing electric vehicle charging stations here, we might wish to propose that such a project be added to the Board’s capital projects long-range plan, for future consideration.
We all know that the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in climate change and that we must invest in cleaner sources of energy. Many members, friends, and visitors at the Society are now driving electric vehicles (EV) or plug-in hybrids, and the percentage is almost certain to grow in the near future. Right now, the Ethical Society, as a business customer of Ameren, has the opportunity to apply for a grant to subsidize up to 50% of the installation of EV chargers on our property. This idea excites the Board and the Climate Action Now! team. However, there are many questions about how this might be done. We will discuss this opportunity–its feasibility, costs, installation, and maintenance– with you at the 9:45 Forum on Sunday, November 12.
Among the questions we will be posing:
- Should we install any chargers at all?
- If yes, how many?
- How fast should the chargers be?
- Where might the chargers be installed for greatest efficiency and minimum cost and disruption?
- Should the Society provide the electricity for free or charge for use?
- How should we pay for the installation and ongoing maintenance costs?
We want to hear your thoughts and your questions before proceeding. Please join us.
Ethical Board and CAN! team
These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.