Back in January, I wrote about a City Light program to install electric vehicle (EV) chargers in 10-15 locations throughout the city. One of the chosen locations was Gas Works Park, and work was slated for completion by late Spring or early Summer of this year. I get down to Gas Works quite frequently, but I haven’t seen the charging station. And that is easily explained by the fact that it just isn’t there.
I snooped around on the internet to find out what’s going on.
City Light has a map showing all the proposed sites, and their status. If you hover over the Gas Works site, you get this:
Due to feasibility concerns, Seattle City Light has decided to withdraw its initial plans to install EV fast chargers at Gas Works Park. The utility will continue to explore potential sites for EV charging in this area. If a feasible site is identified, City Light will engage with community members and stakeholders.
I emailed City Light to get more details on why plans for Gas Works were nixed. Program Manager Victor Couto quickly responded:
In recent months Seattle City Light decided to place a hold on its proposal to build an EV charging station at Gas Works Park. During the design phase of the project, the City Light team discovered technical issues with the site that affected the feasibility of the project. These issues included:
- Concerns about protecting the adjacent trees and tree roots during trenching for underground electrical conduit.
- A very limited area available for construction work. This would have also caused disruptions to traffic on North Northlake Way.
- Preparing for, containing, and properly disposing of any contaminated soil that may have been uncovered during trenching and excavation, given the site’s history as a petroleum processing facility.
- The added complexity of excavating soil at this site, given that it is an archeologically sensitive area.
- The additional permitting and review required for changing the built environment at a designated landmark.
The combined impact of these issues lead to a sharp increase in estimated construction costs that would not have made this project financially feasible. And to which point we are unlikely to remove this proposed site from hold and proceed with the proposal. The utility will continue to explore potential sites for EV charging in this area. If a feasible site is identified, City Light will engage with community members and stakeholders.
While the City Light pilot program aspires to build around a dozen charging stations, only one (on Beacon Hill near the light rail station) is currently in operation. The proposed site nearest to Gas Works, along Broadway on Capitol Hill, was canceled due to community “concerns about the proposed site.” In any case, the city is not lacking in privately-run charging options, and if you own an electric car, I suspect you worked out your charging solution long ago.
I appreciate the effort and recognize the challenges. But…
I tried charging on two separate occasions at the link location on beacon Hill. Downloaded the app, signed up, put money in the account. Did not work at all either time. I haven’t had a problem with other, private charging stations. Maybe SCL should just hook up with a private company that has demonstrated success. I hope they can make some progress.
I don’t think it make sense for them to have somebody else with demonstrated success to do it for them. The whole point of having this type of small scale trial is to help themselves becoming somebody with demonstrated success.
Those are pretty weak excuses. Somehow they found a way to pour a similarly sized concrete pad for the voting box and dispose of the excavated topsoil.
Where would they have put the station ? Large events stage in the Gas Works parking lot without affecting Northlake traffic every summer, and excavating a trench for a single conduit isn’t a gigantic undertaking.
All these things can be resolved, but as the article said would add to the cost. They just don’t find the cost to be worth it. They didn’t say they can’t resolve the issues.