Electric-vehicle owners now may, for a fee, top off their batteries at charging stations owned by Fairfax County.
Based on a retail-fee schedule approved unanimously Aug. 2 by the Board of Supervisors, the county the following day began levying motorists a cost of 30 cents per kilowatt hour to charge their electric vehicles.
In addition, the county will charge a $2 per hour (up to $25 per day) fee for motorists who continue to park at the charging stations after their vehicles’ batteries are fully charged. The owners will receive full-charging notifications on the ChargePoint app and have a 10-minute grace period to move their vehicles before incurring “dwell-time” fees.
The county starting in 2021 began installing the ChargePoint Level 2 stations at governmental facilities to serve its own increasingly electrified vehicle fleet and promote more widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the community. The stations typically can bring most electric vehicles up to full power in four to eight hours.
“We might have to procure additional electrical capacity to install the charging infrastructure,” said Susan Hinckley of the county’s Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination. “We don’t want to compete with other uses and we want to phase the installations. So it’s a multi-faceted initiative.”
The county by year’s end will have installed 49 ChargePoint Level 2 charging stations at six facilities, which can accommodate more than 80 vehicles, Hinkley said.
“We’re right now focusing on what I might call low-hanging fruit, those buildings and facilities where infrastructure can be installed either because it’s in construction [or] there are not a lot of challenges,” Hinckley said.
County officials set the rates to cover the program’s variable costs, including transaction fees levied by ChargePoint Inc. and the cost of electricity, Hinckley said. Any extra revenues brought in by the fees could be plowed back into replacing the stations as needed, she said.
Factors officials considered when developing the fees included costs that needed to be recovered, motorists’ ability to access and move their vehicles after charging, and how the rates compared with privately owned charging stations nearby.
In addition to the public, the stations may be used by county employees charging their personal vehicles or county fleet vehicles.
Some county-owned stations will be available in restricted-access lots and county employees who have been granted access to them can charge their vehicles there for a fee, provided this does not affect the charging of fleet vehicles.
Loudoun and Arlington counties also have electric-vehicle charging fees, but levy them in different ways. Loudoun charges vehicle users $2.10 per session at county-owned stations, no matter how much electricity gets used or how long vehicles stay connected to the chargers.
Arlington County on July 16 was set to adopt an interim rate of 14.52 cents per kilowatt hour at its seven stations. Arlington officials plan to hire a consultant to develop a permanent rate structure for an expanded electric-vehicle-charging infrastructure and that fee schedule likely will take into account parking fees, infrastructure, costs and a dwell-time charge, Fairfax County officials said.
Fairfax County staff said they considered the per-kilowatt-hour structure to be preferable, as it’s based on the amount of electricity consumed and, unlike per-session or per-minute pricing schemes, does not hinge on vehicles’ battery capacity or weather conditions. The dwell-time fee encourages motorists not to hog the charging stations, they said.
In areas such as park-and-ride facilities and Metrorail garages, where it’s assumed vehicle owners will be away most of the day, the dwelling-time fee will discourage motorists with nearly full batteries from preventing other people who need the facilities more from using them.
County staff will report back to the Board of Supervisors next year regarding public usage of county-owned electric-vehicle charging stations, and whether fee adjustments are needed.