Seattle is the latest city to experiment with curbside EV charging. A utility-run program will install chargers by request, giving drivers without off-street parking a way to charge.
First spotted by Charged EVs, local utility Seattle City Light is offering to install the Level 2 curbside stations at no cost to residents or property owners. The charging stations will be owned, operated, and maintained by Seattle City Light.
The utility has been selecting sites by request since earlier this spring. Residents can request a charging station under this process, but ultimately the decision of where stations will be located will be made by the utility. Seattle City Light also plans to install a limited number of chargers, which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition, only property owners, not renters, can make requests. And to be eligible for consideration, they must currently own or lease a battery-electric vehicle or state they plan to buy or lease one within the next 12 months.
The chargers will offer power levels of up to 9.6 kw, and residents will pay a flat fee for use, according to Seattle City Light. Fees for Seattle City Light-operated stations in 2021 were $0.20 per kwh, but 2022 fees will be released at a later date.
Once requests are made, Seattle City Light plans to evaluate possible sites in summer 2022, and begin installations in winter 2022/2023.
Proposed streetlight charging station for Kansas City (via Kansas City MEC)
Curbside charging could help make EV ownership easier for residents of multi-unit dwellings without a garage or driveway. That's led several cities to try different approaches. Kansas City is testing streetlight-based charging, while another design, being tested in the United Kingdom, pops up from the sidewalk.
Curbside fast-chargers are also rather hard to find in urban areas, although EVgo has introduced some. In the meantime, what we see in cities with higher rates of EV adoption are some makeshift approaches involving extension cords.
In a 2019 poll, we found a surprisingly high rate of respondents confessed to having used extension cords—a strategy not recommended by anyone—to get charging to EVs at times.