Power to the people.
Range anxiety is a major impediment to mass electric vehicle adoption. Luckily, the city of Los Angeles wants to lead the way in showing how cities can solve that problem. That’s why it’s installing EV charging stations at some of its street light poles, with plans to keep adding more going forward.
Back in 2013, LA completed its major shift to LED street lighting, and moved completely away from the old, energy-inefficient sodium lamps of the past. Power plants noticed that they now had surplus energy, which Mayor Eric Garcetti called “totally gravy,” according to Wired.
The city didn’t go into the initial LED street lamp plan with this ambitious EV charging station plan in tow. Instead, it was an opportunity that just made total sense. By August 2016, the city had already installed 27 such charging stations. It likely helped that Mayor Garcetti himself has been riding the EV train for a long time, all the way back to having purchased two successive GM EV-1s as daily drivers back in the day.
LA has a Green New Deal of its own, and part of Garcetti’s plan is to get 100,000 electric vehicles into the city by 2025. The Bureau of Street Lighting, LA Department of Transportation, and LA Department of Water and Power have all been working together to implement this plan on the ground.
Although the video above focuses on LA’s EV charging stations as managed by Quebec-based company Flo, other EV charging companies have stations around the city as well. These include GreenLots, Charge Point, and EVGo, according to LAist. Rates for charging typically cost around $1 or $2 per hour, but your parking in those charging spots is free.
Greater access to Level 2 and fast charging is essential, particularly in cities where many people rent. LA is also working to create infrastructure for EV charging in its parking garages. LADOT currently has plans in place to add 44 fast chargers to its existing parking facilities in the next six months, a representative told LAist at the end of October 2019. Also, 10 percent of spaces will be pre-wired for easy installation of chargers in the future, as the need grows.
Currently, the BSL plans to add 150 EV chargers to its street lights within LA every single year. This plan is concurrent with LADOT’s existing 106 parking garage spaces and 200 metered parking spots with EV chargers, to which that department also plans to add more. Mayor Garcetti’s plan calls for 28,000 publicly available EV chargers in the city by 2028.
Is it ambitious? Yes, but it’s making constant progress—and hopefully other North American cities can learn from and use it to inform their own EV infrastructure plans going forward.