- Electricity utility Seattle City Light began a program to install public curbside EV chargers for Tier 2 electric vehicles on utility poles or free-standing pedestals at 30 locations across the city. The aim is to provide local charging for residents who do not have access to off-street parking, where most charging takes place.
- Residents living within the city limits can request a charger near their home if they own an electric vehicle or plan to buy one within the next year. City Light installs chargers for free in places that meet Admission Requirements and rank highly in the utility’s evaluation process.
- City Light expects to start installing chargers later this year and be ready by early 2023. The utility will conduct a post-mortem analysis and anticipates additional deployments if the chargers prove financially viable and residents deem them valuable, according to Jacob Orenberg, Seattle coordinator for City Light Capital Projects.
Seattle City Light will install, own, operate and maintain the new chargers. Residents pay a fee per kilowatt hour to use the chargers. The fee covers the cost of electricity and system operation, maintenance and repair, and offsets the initial acquisition and installation costs. The 2022 fee is 20 cents per kWh. These chargers can provide the typical electric vehicle with a range in excess of 30 miles per hour of charge time.
Each installation will charge one or two vehicles, depending on site characteristics, with an estimated total of 45 to 60 chargers, Orenberg said. Installations at each location are estimated to cost $11,000 to $25,000. The 40 amp Level 2 chargers will have a J1772 connector compatible with all EVs in the North American market.
City Light wants to focus on the most difficult and expensive places to install infrastructure because “when we tackle these challenging areas, we break down barriers in the broader community,” said Angela Song, portfolio manager for transportation electrification at City Light.
Those of the US Census Bureau 2019 American Housing Survey shows that more than a third of homeowners in the US — and nearly two-thirds of renters — don’t have a garage or carport. About 80% of Americans’ personal EV charging is done at home, usually overnight in one of these structures. consumers consistently quote EV range and the fear of not having enough charge to reach destinations are the main barriers to buying an EV.
“More than 50% of our communities are tenants and that leads to credit Living in … apartment buildings,” Song said. “We’re really excited and hope this can really push the boundaries and increase adoption of EVs” by increasing these communities’ access to chargers.
Organizers would like to have at least three EV charging stations in each of Seattle’s seven boroughs to ensure a relatively even geographic spread throughout the service area, rather than placing them in the one or two boroughs that currently have the most EV owners, said Orenberg.
The public opt-in process differs from the way some other cities conduct public infrastructure installations. A pillar of the program is gathering and incorporating community feedback on charging locations, rather than the utility simply making the decision. This helps ensure that the chargers are actually being used and adds value while better meeting the needs of individual communities, Orenberg said.
“We know that our communities are keen to have their wants and needs reflected in our programs,” Song said. “We hope this will provide a holistic view of where the community wants these charging stations to be, and that will inform future programs.”
As of last week, City Light received 513 applications. After the application deadline later this summer, City Light will evaluate each proposed site to determine suitability for the new infrastructure and potential benefits to the community. Each site is rated and the top ranked sites receive installs.
Seattle City Light will use EVSE commercial charging technology designed for pole mounting. Additionally, the utility is redesigning the program from the ground up to meet the unique needs of the Seattle service area, Orenberg said.
“There are very few other utilities and municipalities in the country that are currently pursuing EV charging solutions for residents,” he said. “We want to offer a service for current electric vehicle owners who may be struggling to charge their vehicle, but also [to] potential EV owners; Basically, this could be what would get them to the point where they would buy an electric vehicle.”
Last year a World Resources Institute to learn on domestic installations of EV chargers on utility and light poles found that only four US cities – los Angeles and Lancaster, California; Melrose, Massachusetts; and Portland, Oregon — had carried out such a project at the time. Kansas City, Missouri, also launched a similar program last year. WRIs The study concluded that little information is available to help cities that want to take this approach to scale up EV charging.