The Riverton City Council has decided not to sponsor a federal grant to support new electric vehicle charging stations in town.
The decision was made in a 3-3 vote during a regular meeting Tuesday.
Riverton Mayor Tim Hancock did not participate in the vote, or the discussion about the grant application, which city staff submitted last week.
“At this point (we) are seeking concurrence from the city council if you agree with our submission,” public works director Brian Eggleston told the council.
The project would have cost about $870,000, Eggleston said, with Patrick Lawson of Wild West EV contributing about $174,000 of the funding to cover the 20 percent match requirement for the grant.
Lawson also agreed to “some assurances” that would guarantee the charging stations remain open for the entire five-year grant period “so the city isn’t left holding the bag,” Eggleston said.
After hearing more about the assurances from Wild West EV, Councilmember Dean Peranteaux said he is “supportive of the idea.”
“I think it’s important that we have the infrastructure (to provide) electric power to those people who like to travel by electric vehicle,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure that the city’s liability was covered and that we weren’t putting ourselves out there, because in a lot of ways it’s not practical as a money-making venture without some other support or other government input.”
Councilmember Mike Bailey shared a separate concern, however, cautioning the city against “competing with private industry.”
“There are other charging stations in Riverton (where) somebody has made an investment,” Bailey said. “If we’re going to lease a piece of City Hall parking lot … we’ve got to be very careful (about) setting a precedent where we’re subsidizing.”
Bailey also wondered what might happen after the five-year grant period ends, pointing out that the Wyoming Department of Transportation recently paused implementation of its own National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure plan.
Eggleston said WYDOT “backed away” from the NEVI plan “because they’re concerned about being stuck with infrastructure on private property.”
“If they don’t want to get into it, I don’t know that as us as the City of Riverton want to go there,” Bailey said. “I’m all for entrepreneurship and people figuring out things that are new and different and are needed in the market but … I don’t want to put the city in a position where, five years from now, it all gets shut down (and) we’ve got a facility that we’ve got to, at minimum, remove from our property.”
Bailey voted against the grant application Tuesday along with councilmembers Karla Borders and Kristy Salisbury, while councilmembers Peranteaux, Lindsey Cox, and Kyle Larson voted in favor.
The tie vote meant concurrence failed, and Eggleston said the city would withdraw its grant application.
For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.