The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Cathlamet council OK's grant application for EV charging station


In a split vote, members of the Cathlamet Town Council on Monday agreed to proceed as lead agency in a grant application to install an electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

Under the plan proposed by Council Member David Olson, the town would locate a Level 3 charging station in a park yet to be developed at the intersection of Main and Butler streets.

Council Member Bill Wainwright, while saying he supports electric vehicles, questioned the value of the station to the town and its cost. He said he had conducted an informal poll of residents and found few who supported the EV charging station plan.

"It won't really benefit the town," he said. "We have parks that need major surgery. We have a town dock that can't be used. I wonder if our priorities are right. This will only benefit people who occasionally come to town."

Olson said the station will provide a valuable service whose value will increase in the future. He invited two guests who use electric vehicles to speak.

First was Frank Wolfe, a member of the Pacific County board of commissioners. He spoke of electric vehicle mileage limits and said a Level 3 station in Cathlamet would be the only fast charging station between Longview and Long Beach. Town business would benefit, he added, for drivers and passengers would shop or dine while they waited for their vehicle to recharge.

Second was Elochoman Valley resident Javier Sanchez, who is also one of the proprietors of the Rivermile 38 Brewery.

"It would be fantastic to have a Level 3 charger in Cathlamet," he said.

There is already a Level 2 charger available at the Hotel Cathlamet, but it takes 12 hours to recharge a car battery with Level 2, and a Level 3 charger will deliver a charge in a couple hours.

"To bring in business, you need Level 3," Sanchez said. "My recommendation is that you go with a charger that can be used by many vehicles."

An estimate developed by Wahkiakum PUD puts the cost of a Level 3 station at $147,000. Under the grant request, the town would be responsible for $29,419 and the state grant would be $117,677.

The PUD had been considering installing a Level 2 station at their facility, but General Manager David Tramblie said the PUD dropped out last week. Tramblie explained that concerns about revenue and finances stemming from the covid-19 pandemic led to the decision.

In other business, Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff reported that the town will receive $25,000 in federal CARES Act covid-19 relief funding. The county will receive another $250,000, but that can shared with other entities such as the Wahkiakum School District.

Also, Wainwright questioned why a dock repair project hadn't started and why the council hadn't received an updated ordinance concerning pit bulls and other potentially dangerous dogs.

Attorney Fred Johnson said the dock repair would start once it had been determined by the county permit coordinator that the work didn't require a shoreline development permit.

Social distancing guidelines call for a delay in hearings on potentially controversial ordinances until large gatherings are allowed. The council meets over the internet, which isn't convenient for public comment.

Given those concerns, Johnson suggested waiting a month to see what size gatherings are allowed.


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