Electric Road Trip

The charging station that made Seattleites mad

SEATTLE — We are traveling 6,000 miles on the Electric Road Trip and telling dozens of stories. Today we published one that resonates with me, as the events took place just blocks from my house.

The article is about the bold effort that Seattle made to build electric vehicle charging stations on public curbs — and how that effort almost entirely failed.

The curbsides of big cities are one of the unheralded fronts in the move toward electric transportation. The curb, after all, is where thousands of people who don't have garages park their cars. Seattle's idea was to encourage EV adoption by bringing the charging stations to these people.

The most prominent location the city chose was on Broadway East, the main thoroughfare of Capitol Hill, where I lived until very recently.

Ask any Seattleite if they think electric cars are a good idea and they'll say yes. Among popular notions, zero-emissions transportation is right up there with coffee and craft beer.

But in practice, getting ready for electric cars involves trade-offs, especially in a neighborhood with crowded sidewalks and streets, along with a growing resentment against cars in general. The Broadway charging station proposal went down to defeat, because of opposition from an unexpected source.

One of the most interesting parts of reporting on electric vehicles these days is watching them turn from a gauzy, feel-good idea into a hard reality. That reality has some sharp edges that poke against the very people who were disposed to feel good about electric cars.

People in the Capitol Hill neighborhood were poked by the electric car, and so will many others, as electric cars roll out in bigger numbers. We look forward to telling you about them. In fact, if it happens in your neighborhood, let us know. We'd like to tell the story.

See the full-length story in Energywire.

Electric Road Trip

E&E News reporters take a 6,000-mile road trip in an electric vehicle to explore how the switch from gas to electric transportation will change the economy, environment and daily life of America.
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