After a few months soliciting citizen input, City Light is on the verge of installing two electric vehicle (EV) chargers at Gas Works Park. Last Thursday, January 17, an open house was held at the John Stanford School to explain the plans. I headed over there to get the scoop.
City Light plans to install 20 charging stations at 10-15 locations in Seattle according to their EV information webpage. Chargers are already installed on Beacon Hill not far from the light rail station. After signoff by Seattle Parks expected later this month, City Light will work with a contractor to do the installation at Gas Works. We should see the chargers in place by late spring or early summer.
City Light is installing 480-volt DC Fast Chargers (also known as Level 3 chargers) which, they say, will allow a car to travel about 50 miles for every 15 minutes of charging. The chargers are compatible with most EVs, but if you happen to own a Tesla, you might be out of luck. Adapters are available for some Tesla models, but not all. Charging will not be free; the juice will cost you $0.43 per kilowatt hour (payable by credit card, phone or via online account) which, over time, covers the electricity, installation and equipment costs. According to the Seattle Times which reported on the opening of the Beacon Hill charging station, completely charging a fully depleted Nissan Leaf will cost you about $10.70 at this rate. Much more technical information is available on the City Light EV FAQ. (Remarkable fact from the FAQ: an app is available which will tell you if a particular charging station is currently in use.)
The stations would be installed in the parking lot in the northwest corner of the park. (See map elsewhere on this page.) To make room for the two charging stations, three existing parking spaces will be given over to use for charging. This is to accommodate electric, handicap-accessible vans which require extra room on one side for loading and unloading. As a regular visitor to Gas Works, I can attest that parking can be tight there on a nice day, so this three-for-two exchange will make things a tad worse.
So … if you come by with your gas-powered car and find that one of the charging station spots is unused, can you park there? No, you cannot. WA state law states:
It is a parking infraction, with a monetary penalty of one hundred twenty-four dollars, for any person to park a vehicle in an electric vehicle charging station provided on public or private property if the vehicle is not connected to the charging equipment.
So even if you come by in your electric car, but don’t plug in to the charger, you’re in violation.