Seattle Installs EV Chargers on Utility Poles for City Residents Without Home Chargers

A electric vehicle charger on a utility pole
A electric vehicle charger on a utility pole. Seattle City Light
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More and more people are making the switch to electric vehicles to reduce their emissions. But for some homeowners and apartment dwellers, driving an EV gets tricky without charging infrastructure available at home. Seattle is hoping to make it easier for EV owners to get power for their vehicles by installing chargers to local utility poles.

The new Curbside Level 2 EV Charging program provides EV chargers to Seattle residents who don’t have chargers at their own residence, although the service will be publicly available to anyone and will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Residents can even request for a new charger to be installed near their home, so long as they meet all of the necessary requirements. EV charger location requirements include (but are not limited to) having existing street parking, being within Seattle’s city limits and not restricting or blocking existing or planned bike or transit lanes.

There are additional requirements for the person making the request, such as that they must own or plan to own an EV within the next 12 months and that their existing address does not offer off-street parking. Once a request is made, public utility Seattle City Light will evaluate the area and request input from neighbors before installing a new EV charger. If over 50% of neighboring property owners oppose the chargers, they will not be installed in the requested location.

The EV chargers are installed on utility poles as well as pedestal mounts, and each charger services one car at a time, providing up to 9.6 kilowatts (kW). EVs will gain about 30 miles of range per hour plugged into the charger.

Although residents can request chargers for their streets, they will not be responsible for installation fees. Seattle City Light will purchase the chargers and pay for installation. However, EV owners will be expected to pay about $0.20 per kWh, enough energy to travel about 3 miles, to use the chargers.

“The City of Seattle set a goal to reduce transportation emissions 83% from 2008 levels by 2030. Residents can accomplish much of this with low-emission travel by public transit, biking, walking, and other options; however, many will still rely on personal vehicles for some of their trips,” the city said in a statement. “Seattle City Light is installing these chargers as part of a more extensive portfolio of transportation electrification investments and services to help the utility’s service area transition to zero-emission electric transportation options.”

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