An electric vehicle charging station is coming to Mackay, City Councilman Greg Blackwell told his fellow council members and the mayor.

Blackwell, who oversees parks and recreation matters, said he applied for a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality to build a double-sided charging station for electric autos. It’s part of a statewide program to establish more electric charging stations on Idaho roadways, Blackwell explained.

DEQ Program Manager Michael Brown said money for the charging stations comes from a settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency and Volkswagen. In 2016 and 2017, Volkswagen officials paid out three settlements after it was discovered they cheated on Clean Air Act emissions tests for hundreds of thousands of vehicles sold between 2009 and 2016. To mitigate the excessive emissions from those vehicles, Brown said the money the U.S. government received from Volkswagen was earmarked to replace diesel vehicles and install charging stations for electric vehicles.

Idaho received $17.3 million from the settlement and has till 2027 to spend it, Brown said. With 15 percent of Idaho’s share of the settlement allocated to his program, Brown has so far spent about $500,000 to install three charging stations.

According to Councilman Blackwell, a charging station in Mackay has perks. Although it would get little use by city residents, because some electric autos can take several hours to charge, it might encourage visitors to wander around Mackay while they wait, Blackwell said. And, the city has no financial obligations, he said.

“You got to figure the people who use these things will stop at the station and want to stretch their legs while they wait, maybe buy something to eat,” Blackwell said. “If we can get on board with this, it’ll only benefit us.”

Blackwell began looking into a charging station because visitors keep asking for one. While he acknowledged he’s not getting dozens of requests, the five or so he did hear last summer is an indication of the growing popularity of and the need to accommodate electric vehicles.

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