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Fairfax County adopts fees for using its electric vehicle charging stations

A Fairfax County-owned electric vehicle charger at the Bulova Center for Community Health in Merrifield (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County’s growing supply of electric vehicle charging stations is available for the public to use, but that service will now come at a cost.

Under a retail fee plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last Tuesday (Aug. 3), members of the public and county employees using their personal vehicles will be charged 30 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) while electricity is being delivered.

A $2 per hour “dwell-time fee” will be imposed if the vehicle remains connected to the station more than 10 minutes after it’s fully charged.

Capped at $25 per session, the dwell-time fee is intended to discourage drivers from taking up a parking space when they don’t need the charging station, “freeing the space for other potential users,” according to a county staff report.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, the board’s environmental committee chair, said the fees will make the stations available to the general community while prioritizing the county vehicles they’re primarily designed to serve.

“Every county has had to wrestle with, ‘How do we provide this kind of infrastructure for county vehicles, but also, how do we provide this for the public at large?'” Storck said. “I know many of us have been getting calls and questions and emails and people desiring more ability to charge their vehicles at county facilities. This clearly will move us in that direction.”

According to staff, the county has over 20 electric vehicle chargers covering 40 spaces at six sites, including the Fairfax County Government Center, the Pennino Building, the Herrity Building, the Public Safety Headquarters and the Bulova Center for Community Health.

Charging infrastructure was added at the Sully Community Center in July, and stations at the Herndon-Monroe and Innovation Center Metro station garages are also in the works, Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (EEOC) Deputy Director Susan Hafeli told the board last week.

A total of 49 stations with over 80 spaces will be in place by the end of 2022, she said.

According to the staff report, the adopted charging fee is comparable to commercial providers. As of June, Electrify America was charging 43 cents per kWh for non-members and 31 cents per kWh, plus a monthly $4 fee for members in Fairfax County.

Fairfax County is the third Northern Virginia locality to establish charging fees. Loudoun County charges a flat fee of $2.10 per session at its stations, while Arlington County approved a fee of 14.5 cents per kWh on July 16 as an interim measure.

While county staff didn’t provide revenue projections, the new fees are expected to cover transaction fees charged by the station provider and the cost of electricity, which Hafeli noted has been climbing.

“Natural gas prices have really taken a jump, and they’re expected to continue rising,” she said. “So, we want to make sure the rates we set will be sufficient to cover those two key components.”

Any additional revenue could be used for maintenance, replacements or other costs.

The Board of Supervisors also moved last week to waive all electrical, building and sign permitting fees for electric vehicle infrastructure for 18 months, starting on Oct. 31, when the county will finish consolidating land use processes in its new PLUS database.

“Exempting [charger] permit fees on a trial basis can help incentivize use of electric vehicles enabling residents, businesses, and organizations to take small actions to decrease emissions,” Chairman Jeff McKay said in his board matter. “Even small actions can make a big impact.”

Adopted in July 2021, the Operational Energy Strategy set a goal of making all county bus and fleet vehicles electric or a non-carbon emitting alternative by 2035.

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