Students’ charger idea considered by city council

Published 8:42 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

When Chris McCalla’s sixth grade engineering class presented their idea for electric car charging stations to the LaGrange City Council last week, they had the opportunity to be a part of the city’s planning process.

The sixth-grade students from Long Cane Middle School have been studying how technology has changed the world and came to the conclusion that within the next few years the demand for car charging stations will continue to grow. They recommended that the city council consider placing charging stations at locations where visitors are likely to want to stop, and the council listened.

“We’ve talked about this in the past, and I think some cities put charging stations in strategic locations like downtown where you might have somebody park and then shop or eat or visit or tour for some period of time, as opposed to just out by the interstate where it is great to have, but that is just more people passing through,” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “I know they have some down at the visitor center in West Point.”

The primary council concerns revolved around the cost of the charging stations themselves and if there would be enough people using them. Students in the class estimated that electric car charging stations would cost approximately $700 and recommended charging $3 an hour to charge a vehicle to cover the cost of the charger itself and the electricity used. The class also considered the introduction of tourist attractions like Great Wolf Lodge in their recommendation.

“We have talked about that in class, and certainly the areas that are more touristy (would be the best locations),” McCalla said. “Maybe around the square and other places where people like to go, park their car and wonder around for some shopping. Great Wolf is going to bring even more people, and they are going to go, ‘I’m coming in my electric car. How am I going to get home?’”

Currently, there are several electric car charging stations in LaGrange, including at the new parking deck and at the Chick-fil-A on Lafayette Parkway. The council discussed the possibility of installing charging stations at locations where out of town visitors regularly drive like to Callaway Stadium and other sport fields.

Thornton requested that city staff come up with a possible plan for electric car chargers to be reviewed by the council at a future date.

The LaGrange City Council is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue.