Vehicle Recharging


One of the main barriers for many people to switching from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric, besides the cost, is access to recharging the battery. If you live in a single family house that you own, you can usually provide an outlet by a place where you park for overnight recharging, although you may end up paying for a new outlet with increased charge capacity. If you drive to work, and you can recharge while you are working, that is another solution. If you rent, and your landlord does not provide a parking spot where you can recharge, recharging may be much more difficult or impossible.

Seattle vehicle rechargingPhoto: Robin Briggs

There are different types of electric rechargers. A Level 2 outlet will give you about 180 miles after an 8 hour recharge. A DC fast charger (sometimes also called Level 3), can add 50-90 miles in 30 minutes. A Tesla Supercharger provides about 170 miles in 30 minutes. For more background, see this article. The cost of installing these different types also varies depending on type. I've seen $1000-$2000 per outlet for Level 2, and $50,000 quoted for a DC fast charger for home use. Public rechargers need to be more robust, because they are more heavily used, and require credit card readers, data contracts and other elements not used on home rechargers. Recharging at a public parking spot usually requires a smartphone app and a credit card.

Seattle City Light recharging stationPhoto: Robin Briggs

Possible Policies

  • The Washington Energy Strategy says: "To enable widespread access to EV-charging equipment, the state should establish – and promote enforcement of – building codes that require installation of conduit, wiring and panel capacity needed to support EVSE in new and retrofitted buildings, including commercial buildings, office buildings, and multi-family dwelling units."

  • The Washington Energy Strategy also calls for the State to insure that public chargers are available in areas where private companies may not find it cost effective to install them: "the state should identify major BEV charging and FCV fueling infrastructure projects with significant public benefit and provide these with direct public investment. The state should also directly support, or enable electric utilities to support, EVSE in underserved urban and rural communities. "

  • Require recharging infrastructure for commercial and multi-family buildings where parking is provided in new buildings. Seattle currently requires conduit, but not wiring or panel capacity.

  • Seattle City Light could reduce costs of installation of rechargers by doing volume purchasing.

  • Seattle City Light could shift to charge of electricity by time of use, which would make it cheaper to recharge overnight, and also even out the demand on the grid. Here's an article, a little out of date, with some information about it. Seattle has completed a study on the impact of rate design, and is in the process of doing pilot studies on this.

To Do List

  • Understand the permitting process for installing a recharger in Seattle. This is a major cost in other localities.

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