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More charging ports will change electric car options in the Quad-Cities

More charging ports will change electric car options in the Quad-Cities

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After years of driving a large SUV to haul her kids and their luggage to sporting events, Debbie Sommers-Krause knew what she wanted — an electric vehicle.

"We were getting about 10 miles to the gallon in the SUV, and I became really committed to something better, environmentally," she said.

But Sommers-Krause, a Moline mental-health therapist, had to be prepared to wait. She initially had her eye on a Volkswagen bus, but the electric models are not yet in production. So, she ordered another favorite — the MINI Cooper.

"I ordered it in May and we picked it up in October (at the closest dealership in Naperville, Ill.)," she said. "It was made in Oxford, England, and COVID delayed manufacturing.

"For a while there, I had to hock a lot of rides to work."

Now the wait is on to make the electric vehicle, EV, lifestyle more convenient in the Quad-Cities, where available public charging ports are at a minimum.

President Joe Biden is proposing an infrastructure bill that includes $174 billion in investment, including tax incentives on American-made EVs, and the increase in public charging ports that will be needed to go with them.

For Sommers-Krause, getting around town is no problem. She simply plugs her MINI Cooper into a garage outlet overnight, keeping it fully charged to go the 110 miles it can travel on a full charge.

"It takes a long time to charge when it's really low, so it's cool that more ports are coming," she said. "There's a mid-level charger at the airport (in Moline), where a full charge takes five-to-six hours.

"There's a super-duper power station at a gas station in Geneseo, and you can get a full charge in three hours."

All charging ports are not equal, in other words, and not all ports will work with her MINI Cooper. Charging stations for Tesla EVs are specific to the make, for example.

Sommers-Krause and her husband, Jay Krause, are Cubs baseball fans and hope to be able to easily drive their EV from the Quad-Cities to Wrigley Field one day soon.

"We could do it now by stopping for a charge in Oregon, Illinois," she said. "Beyond that, I'd use one of the online apps, like Charge Point, to find other places.

"As more options become available, that will definitely help and urge others."

Throughout the Quad-Cities, public and private entities are making plans to add charging access for the area's EV fleet.

• Jennifer Hirsch, of MetroLink, said build-out plans are preliminary, but they take buses and smaller vehicles into consideration. MetroLink also is taking receipt of nine new E-buses early next year.

"We are looking to build out our charging infrastructure at our downtown terminals, also at our airport megastop, to support on-street charging for our battery-electric fleet," she said. "We would also build out infrastructure in the downtowns and airport to support personal EVs."

• Bob Lanzerotti, director of facilities & sustainability services at Augustana College, Rock Island, said his campus also has joined the EV-port discussions, but no determinations have been made yet, regarding the number of units or their locations.

• Darcie Shinberger, of Western Illinois University, said facilities managers are "exploring the opportunity" to add an EV charging station at the WIU-Quad-Cities campus on the Moline riverfront, which is part of an environmental sustainability plan. A charging station is in use on the WIU-Macomb campus, she said.

• James Hannon, physical plant director at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, recently spoke with MidAmerican Energy about their program to supply the stations free of charge, he said. The need and desire for charging stations at SAU are being regularly monitored.

• While Genesis Health System currently does not have specific plans to add ports, spokesman Craig Cooper said, the charging stations in the parking lots at the East Rusholme Street and Moline HealthPlex campuses are available for public use.

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