SEATTLE – At first, it might look like a gas pump sitting in the corner of The Harvard Market’s parking lot in Capitol Hill. But the NRG EVgo label up top is a sign of newer technology.
“In the Seattle market, today, we have maybe only five of these around the metro area,” said Craig Smith with Seattle City Light. “It’s a piece of equipment that can charge your typical electric vehicle [and] bring it to about 80 percent of its capacity in about 20 minutes.”
That interests Smith, who is the director of Customer Energy Solutions for City Light. He says sometime next year, they’ll look to get 10 more stations like this up and running. They’re looking at a combination of sites owned by City Light and some that would be private host sites.
“This will more than double the number of fast charging stations,” he said. “This is a start for us and as we see the demand go and perfect the model for delivery of the service then we’ll look at expanding the service throughout the Seattle City Light service territory.”
He said in a market like Seattle, where an estimated 46 percent of homes are owned by the homeowner and there is a large number of multi-family housing, finding a place to charge can be a challenge.
“If you don’t have equipment in your home, you’ve got very limited options and choices in terms of getting your vehicle charged,” Smith said.
At the same time, City Light is developing an in-home charging service as a pilot program, with hopes of rolling that out sometime next year too. Charging at home is generally cheaper. City Light is developing a program where residents will have an in-home charger at a monthly fee instead of having to pay to buy a charging station installed at home.
“We’ve got 19 new models of electric vehicles coming on the market in the next couple years. We know there’s going to be a demand for these services and as an extension of city light’s business, we want to make sure that we make the service available for our customers at an affordable rate.”
Right now there are about 150 publicly available chargers but, as Smith stateds only about half a dozen are the DC fast chargers. Seattle City Light estimates those stations cost about $80,000, but that should be recovered in the money made charging for the service over its lifespan.