Dec. 8, 2023 - Oak Park is being recognized as the only community to earn gold designation in the first cohort of communities to complete the EV Readiness Program, an initiative launched by ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to help local governments prepare for the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure across northern Illinois.
In total, 12 diverse municipalities were recognized at an awards event held Thursday for their work to achieve the designation of "EV Ready Community." Through the program, communities have taken steps to develop permitting for EV charging infrastructure, conduct training for local staff, and implement plans that engage the community and ensure a safe integration of zero-emissions vehicles.
“The Village of Oak Park has worked hard to establish and adopt our Climate Ready Oak Park (CROP) action plan which sets forth a goal of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and achieving net zero by 2050,” Village President Vicki Scaman said. “Through the EV Readiness Program, our village board and staff were supported to establish comprehensive policies and processes to accelerate EV adoption in line with CROP. Achieving this EV Ready Community designation at the Gold level is a tremendous recognition and it further underscores the comprehensive steps we have taken to reduce emissions from transportation and reach our goals.”
The EV Readiness program was launched by ComEd and the Caucus last year to help prepare municipalities to accommodate the growing number of EVs in Illinois, sparked in large part to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), which includes a goal of adding one million EVs by 2030. Nearly 88,000 EVs are registered in Illinois, with nearly 78,000 in northern Illinois, up from roughly 53,000 in northern Illinois in 2022.
"ComEd is committed to working with communities across the state and the region to accelerate the adoption of EVs – which are proven to lower emissions and create cleaner air for our communities," said Louie Binswanger, ComEd Senior Vice President of Governmental Regulatory and External Affairs. “We are proud to partner with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus on the EV Readiness program, which recognizes the crucial role our municipal partners play in our move to a clean energy economy. Congratulations to the first 12 municipalities for taking action to shape a more sustainable future and for putting us closer to achieving our clean transportation goals."
"Illinois's electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption are booming and initiatives like the EV Readiness program help put our state further down the road to a clean energy future," said Governor JB Pritzker. "These communities have built out an infrastructure that eases the process of buying and owning a zero-emission vehicle, and I'm grateful to ComEd and to all the local leaders who worked to make these designations possible."
Twelve municipalities have been designated an EV Ready Community through the program: Carol Stream, Darien, Deer Park, Geneva, Glencoe, Hampshire, Hanover Park, Maywood, Oak Park, Polo, Skokie, University Park.
"Urban or rural, big or small – diverse communities are demonstrating that they have what it takes to be EV ready," said Kevin Burns, Mayor of the City of Geneva and Executive Board Chairman and Environment Committee Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. "Working in partnership with ComEd, the EV Readiness Program is guiding municipalities to craft smart and effective local policies that will promote a seamless and equitable EV integration across our region."
Municipalities in the program were required to complete several core "EV Readiness Actions" including updated zoning codes to support new charging infrastructure, new permitting and inspection processes aligned with state and national standards to guide safe installation of charging equipment, and training for first responders on incidents involving EVs. EV Ready communities also created online EV resources to educate residents and businesses about EVs. The EV Readiness Program will also serve as a model for a new multi-state program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council to prepare municipalities for transportation electrification.
"The dedication demonstrated by these communities in embracing the electric vehicle future exemplifies the spirit of innovation and progress that drives Illinois forward," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). "That's why I worked to secure $500,000 for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus municipal EV readiness project. I commend the efforts of local leaders, businesses, and community members who have come together to make this vision a reality, and look forward to witnessing more communities across Illinois and the nation move towards a greener tomorrow."
The EV Readiness Program is guided by a comprehensive EV Readiness Checklist of 131 possible municipal actions. The program was developed by a coalition of over 70 regional partners including local mayors, managers, and other local government staff members, as well as representatives from councils of governments, regional planning organizations, Argonne National Laboratory, EV charging station companies, IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), and ComEd.
To earn the title of EV Ready Community, local governments were required to meet at least "Bronze" level designation on the checklist, with at least 27 activities fulfilled. To reach Silver or Gold status, participating communities had to complete additional activities. Oak Park is the only community in this cohort awarded the Gold designation.
The program is also helping municipalities integrate EV charging infrastructure into plans for future growth - with Oak Park, Deer Park, University Park and Darien all recently adopting local policies designed to increase EV charging in new construction projects.
The EV Readiness program launched last year with support from ComEd and will continue to serve qualifying communities through the next two years as part of ComEd's investment to expand electrification announced earlier this year. To remove barriers to EV and other high efficiency technologies for more customers in the region, ComEd's plans include investments in education, like this program, as well as a series of rebates, make ready infrastructure and pilot studies next year with a goal of alleviating upfront costs and increasing widespread EV and fleet adoption over the next three years.
To learn more on the benefits of EVs, and how ComEd can support your electrification project, please visit www.comed.com/cleanenergy. To learn about participating in the EV Readiness Program, please visit the Caucus' website.
Information about electric vehicles in Oak Park is available at www.oak-park.us/electric-vechicles. Data related to the Village’s transportation goals outlined in the Climate Ready Oak Park comprehensive plan is available on the Sustain Oak Park website – click here to view.