Chargers mounted on streetlight or power poles could be a viable way to provide charging for urban dwellers who lack assigned parking spaces.
Many cities have replaced their old-fashioned incandescent streetlights with LED lights, which use far less energy. This means that many circuits serving lampposts have extra energy capacity, which could be used to power charging stations.
Kansas City, Missouri has launched a pilot project to install public Level 2 charging stations on light poles. The Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) led the project, the DOE provided funding, and project partners are providing in-kind contributions. Charging station owners, not the city, will handle ongoing operating and maintenance costs.
The program began its design phase in 2018. The MEC is now beginning installations, which are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Charging at these stations will cost the same as at existing Kansas City public charging stations (currently $0.22 per kWh). Usage data will be recorded and analyzed to help inform future infrastructure planning.
A startup called char.gy began installing lamppost chargers in London in 2018. A dozen US cities have investigated the concept, and a few, including Los Angeles and Lancaster, California; Melrose, Massachusetts; and Portland, Oregon, have begun installations.
“There’s a big gap with EV charging for renters and people who don’t own their home,” said Miriam Bouallegue, Project Manager for Sustainable Transportation at MEC. “They don’t have the ability to install an outlet and may not have a designated parking spot if they live in a complex. With curbside charging, people can just park their cars like they normally would and plug in.”
The curbside installations are very visible to the public, and that’s an additional benefit. “Often, chargers are in garages and not visible so people think, ‘How can I buy an electric vehicle when I’ve never seen a charger?’” said Bouallegue. “We want to encourage more EV adoption by showing people that public charging is available if they purchase an EV.”