To boost the Seattle dream of an electric car in every affordable garage, public charging stations being added across city, including one on Capitol Hill

(Image: Seattle.gov)

Elon Musk wouldn’t be pleased with the delivery timeline but Capitol Hill is lined up to host one of the city’s 20 planned public electric car chargers hoped to, um, jumpstart the adoption of electric vehicles in Seattle and make the automobiles more accessible.

Seattle City Light is making plans to install 18 more of the DC Fast Chargers for electric vehicles at 10 to 15 curbside and off-street locations across the city one of which will be located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“We feel that as a public utility we have a responsibility to our ratepayers to invest in and implement solutions that support sustainability,” Jenny Levesque, community outreach manager for Seattle City Light, said at Monday’s Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting.

The 18 new chargers will join a set installed in the Beacon Hill neighborhood to begin the year. Mayor Jenny Durkan’s $2.2 million goal has been to have 20 in place before the end of 2018.

The new chargers are part of the city’s Drive Clean Seattle Initiative, which aims to reduce carbon emissions. 65% of Seattle’s emissions come from transportation, city officials say.

At the city’s fast-charging stations, drivers of electric vehicles can charge them for approximately 20 minutes to get 80 miles of range. The cost is 43 cents per kilowatt-hour. To charge a Nissan LEAF, for example, from nearly empty to fully charged costs about $10.70. The chargers can provide 75 too 100 miles of range in less than 30 minutes, according to City Light. Fast-charging stations address “range anxiety” and “provide access to charging for residents who may be unable to charge their vehicle at home,” officials say.

Seven years ago, CHS looked at the novel at the time proliferation of permits for installations of chargers at private homes and apartment buildings. The public chargers now join a free market rush to also provide charging services with installations in the city’s right of way already in place and applied for across Seattle:

The proposed location for a Capitol Hill charging station is at Broadway and E Denny Way, next to the future Capitol Hill Station development, according to a Seattle City Light presentation given at Monday’s meeting.

A proposal from the company Greenlots for a privately installed charging station in the public right of way nearby on E Olive Way at Broadway was denied by officials in July citing the plans for the city-owned charging station.

The plan for the city’s Broadway spot includes two chargers and two parking spots. Seattle City Light believes this would cause minimal “green disturbance.” Since this is the first phase of the process, much of this plan is still flexible given the concerns of the neighborhood. The opposite corner of the same lot at E John and 10th Ave was floated as a possibility by a number of attendees.

A spot in front of the 12th Ave Arts building where the meeting was held was also suggested.

Attendees were generally skeptical of the location.

“I don’t love the idea of adding more chaos to Broadway, it’s a really complicated street currently,” McCaela Daffern, sustainability manager at Capitol Hill Housing, said.

Those present at the meeting also wanted to know if charging electric cars, which tend to only be owned by richer people, was the sole purpose of the station.

“It seems like out of reach for so many people,” Daffern said. “It seems like we’re investing in infrastructure for a privileged class people, and so, while I completely believe that we need to do things to address climate change, I get a little frustrated seeing our resources put to this endeavor.”

John Feit, the chair of PPUNC, believes these stations should incorporate the charging of electric bikes, which are more widely used by local residents. Daffern wanted to know if homeless people could charge their phones at the stations.

Eliza Ives, who works on energy data analytics at Seattle City Light, noted that this type of feedback is exactly what her team wants before moving forward on the project.

“That’s the kind of thinking we’re going for, how can we make these chargers accessible to everyone and a real asset to everyone,” Ives said.

Ives said that the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce nor the Broadway Business Improvement Area have been given an opportunity to voice their concerns on the project. Seattle City Light may table at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market to educate people regarding their plan.

The charging station initiatives join a host of transportation-related investments planned by the city to combat global warming on a local level including downtown tolling by 2021, and Pike/Pine protected bike lanes “ASAP.” The Pike/Pine bike investment effort moves forward next week with a community design workshop:

Pike/Pine Protected Bike Lane Community Design Workshop

The Seattle City Council, meanwhile, has endorsed I-1631 to implement a state carbon tax — or carbon fee, if you will — that would require the largest polluters in the state to pay $15 — and, eventually, more — for every ton of carbon dioxide their corporations release into the atmosphere.


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9 thoughts on “To boost the Seattle dream of an electric car in every affordable garage, public charging stations being added across city, including one on Capitol Hill

  1. ” Daffern wanted to know if homeless people could charge their phones at the stations.”

    Yes, we should install electric car chargers for 2.2 million so homeless people can plug in their phones. Are we in an episode of Portlandia? Couldn’t public regular plugs be put in, say, Capitol Hill Housing’s buildings for the homeless to charge?

    • Not “so” homeless people can plug in their phones, but that they can “also” plug in their phones. And what if there was a way to ask folks to “round up” when they charge their vehicles to add free charging for homeless folks – a pay-it-forward kind of option? That would make me more likely to use those more expensive charging stations. Yes, I can charge my car overnight at home, but if I’m out during the day and want to do it more quickly to extend my trips, that would appeal to me.

  2. Did anyone point out I them there are charging plugs upstairs from Harvard Market and inside the Broadway Mkt garage? Those are just the ones I know of. Seems like this money could be better spent.

    • Those are L2 chargers. The ones proposed in this article are L3 – which are far faster and more useful, but also much more expensive.

      Check out plugshare.com – there’s chargers all over the place; but very few are L3.

  3. How about we start with providing discounted electricity in low usage hours like many developed countries do – including the east side :) Installing charging stations that cost 10* more for power is an utter waste of our money.

  4. If you talk to green car enthusiasts, many will tell you the biggest thing holding back electric vehicle adoption is a lack of public charging stations. You can’t simply plug in whenever and wherever you’d like, and these limitations can keep people and organizations from buying EVs for their daily driving.

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