City of Lansing installs electric vehicle charging station to meet growing demand

Electric vehicle charging station at city parking lot in Lansing ... The new electric vehicle (EV) charging station installed this month in Lansing will allow both local EV owners and those visiting the area access to a “fuel” source otherwise not available in the local area. As pictured above, the new Charge Point station is located in the city parking lot along South Front Street, near the ball diamond and Lansing City Hall. Photo by Bob Modersohn.

by Ellen Modersohn

With the installation this month of an electric vehicle charging station, Lansing is ready to fuel not only locally owned electric vehicles (EVs), but also those owned by seasonal and short-term visitors to the city and those passing through. The Level-2 charging station was installed at the east side of Lansing’s city parking lot along South Front Street.

Lansing’s City Council approved the purchase of the Charge Point station (pictured at far right) from LilyPad EV in December 2022. The $10,994.76 cost of the station was covered by the VW (Volkswagen) Settlement Grant awarded to the City of Lansing in July 2022.

Lansing City Council member Curt Snitker said the charger will be important for tourism in and around Lansing.

“To remain relevant within that context, I feel it’s important to offer services to a wide range of travelers,” Snitker said. “Iowa DOT (Department of Transportation), recognizing the geographical significance of our community, determined it was prudent to select Lansing for an EV charging station. I applied for a federally funded Iowa DOT grant that was secured through the Diesel Gate scandal settlement with Volkswagen of America.”

Michelle Barness, a regional planner with the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, said: “Lansing’s decision to leverage a grant to cover the cost of the charging infrastructure they installed was a smart one, and forward-looking with regards to planning for tourism and economic development. It may be a few years yet before the charger gets heavy use, but it likely will pick up. Some communities, like West Union and Decorah, are already seeing regular use of their public chargers.”

Based on her research on the growth of EVs through 2040 in five northeast Iowa counties, Barness said, “We would need at least 164 public Level 2 chargers in the region to serve just local EV drivers, let alone travelers from the greater region, state and other states. … that would be at least 33 charging ports per county.”

Data provided at an October 2022 Charged Up EV Event held at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar stated:
• The number of EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs registered in Iowa in March 2022 was 9,402. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to 50,000-78,000.
• Iowa projects EV fleet adoption of 225,000-450,000 EVs by 2040.

Barness said: “In putting in a public charger, communities are thinking largely about travelers/visitors who have to have an option for fueling their EVs when they come to town. Just like you need gas stations to serve internal combustion engines (ICEs), you need to provide electric fueling options for these travelers. You may or may not attract additional EV travelers to your community by providing public charging, but you are very likely to lose those people that would be coming anyway but decide not to because charging isn’t possible.”

Local businesses may benefit from having charging stations nearby. A Northeast Iowa Electric Vehicle Tourism Study in 2022 cited a state of New Hampshire study that found:
• The most common duration of public charging was 15-40 minutes.
• Seventy percent of drivers patronized local businesses while using a public Level 2 charger.
• The most commonly reported range of spending was between $20 and $40 while using public Level 2 charging.

The EV tourism study also cited a study by that ranked Iowa 41st among states in EV infrastructure. “Without the necessary infrastructure in place,” the tourism study stated, “it will become difficult for Iowa to overcome ‘range anxiety’ with travelers.”

Ian Zahren, Lansing City Council member and executive director of Lansing RAGBRAI 2022, saw what happened when EV drivers came through the charger-less town during RAGBRAI just over one year ago: “Without a charging station, many visitors had to leave fairly quickly in order to recharge their car. I am hopeful that with the addition of this new charging station, more people will visit and frequent Lansing.”