Seattle City Light Unveils its new site in SODO for Public Electric Vehicle Charging

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, City Light held an event to officially unveil its latest public electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers near the utility’s South Service Center. The SODO fast chargers, located southeast of the intersection of 4th Avenue South and South Spokane Street, is the utility’s second location for publicly available EV fast chargers, with more installations planned in 2020.   

The site includes four EV fast chargers and a dual-port Level 2 charger. Depending on the electric vehicle, the fast chargers can dispense upwards of 165 miles of range per hour of charge time, while the Level 2 chargers can dispense up to 30 miles of range per hour. The chargers are located in a publicly accessible parking lot in the SODO neighborhood.   

“The new EV fast chargers are part of a larger transportation electrification strategy. They will allow us to leverage our clean electricity and reach the city of Seattle’s goals of reducing carbon emissions by 2050,” said Debra Smith, General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light. “This pilot will help us understand the impacts of EV charging on the electrical system as we lay the groundwork to support electrifying all modes of transportation, from passenger vehicles to buses, the Port of Seattle, heavy-duty vehicles and ferries.” 

Electric Vehicle fast chargers near City Light South Service Center
EV fast chargers near City Light South Service Center

City Light also shared a new time-of-day fee structure for the public EV fast chargers. The “Daytime” cost-to-charge is from Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The “All Other Hours” cost-to-charge is all hours on Sunday and Monday-Saturday from 12:00 a.m.-6:59 a.m. and 7:01 p.m.-11:59 p.m. 

“The new fee structure sets a price point that demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of utilizing electric vehicles,” Victor Couto, public EV pilot program manager, said. “Being stewards of offering affordable electricity, City Light established fees comparative to gasoline that benefit our customers while bringing more electrical load to our system.”

With Seattle boasting one of the larger populations of electric vehicles in the country, City Light is installing 20 publicly accessible EV fast chargers throughout the utility’s service area. EV fast chargers will be distributed across the utility’s service area so that charging is accessible to all customers, especially in areas where the private sector is not installing EV infrastructure. Before breaking ground in a neighborhood, City Light performs extensive research to identify optimal locations that are near major arterial roads and amenities that meet the technical requirements for delivering power to that location.

City Light is committed to delivering equitable outcomes through its future transportation electrification efforts. City Light is conducting outreach and engaging directly with communities, specifically those that have been traditionally underrepresented and disadvantaged. Community Outreach Manager Jenny Levesque believes these sessions are imperative for City Light to be successful.   

“We want to have an open dialogue and keep communities involved in the process,” Jenny explained. “We value and welcome their input to ensure that these transportation electrification solutions align with the needs of the community.”   

City Light is developing a Transportation Electrification Plan that will identify priorities for investment in charging infrastructure City Light will make to increase equitable access to electric transportation, reduce carbon emissions, and bring value to the grid and our customers. We are focused on solutions that align with City Light’s transportation electrification value framework of equity, environment, and the grid. City Light is seeking to understand the transportation needs of the communities we serve.   

“The reduced fees come at a time when City Light is developing a Transportation Electrification Plan that will identify priorities for the utility’s investments in increasing equitable access to electric transportation, reducing carbon emissions, and bringing value to the electric grid and City Light customers,” said Emeka Anyanwu, City Light’s Energy Innovation and Resources Officer. 

City Light will release more information on the plan as it is available.   

City Light plans to install at least four sites across its service area by mid-2020. The locations and expected completion dates include:  

  • Magnuson Park (Q1 2020);   
  • Alaska Junction in West Seattle (Q1 2020);  
  • Madison-Miller located at 22nd Ave and East Olive Street (Q1 2020);  
  • Tukwila (Q2 2020);
  • Additional sites are to be determined.

Each station will host a variety of charger types, bringing at least 20 chargers to its network of stations. Currently, the utility is researching 11 different sites throughout City Light’s service area.  

These chargers, coupled with future pilot programs, including residential EV charging, City Light feels it is in the driver’s seat as electrification becomes more affordable and available.   

“Above all, we want to offer a suite of EV options for our customers,” Victor explained. “We are meeting the current demand.”  

The SODO charging station is available for public use and is on the popular EV charging app PlugShare. For more information on City Light’s electric vehicle programs and initiatives, visit energysolutions.seattle.gov/electric-vehicles/.