National Grid has a plan to address the need for EV chargers for people who can’t plug in an electric car at home. In Melrose, Massachusetts, a suburban community 10 miles north of Boston, it is installing 16 EV chargers that are mounted on light poles. “We know the importance of transitioning to a clean energy future,” says Tara Kapila, vice president for growth and marketing at National Grid, in a blog post. “By deploying these EV chargers on our utility poles, we are doing our part in providing equitable access to this growing technology.”
Mounting the chargers on existing light poles saves a lot of money. Compared to digging trenches to install underground wires, tapping into the electricity already available to power street lights reduces installation costs by about 70%. While mounting EV chargers on light poles is popular in the UK and many parts of Europe, it has been slow to catch on in the US.
The chargers will be owned by the City of Melrose. When all the chargers are installed later this year, the Melrose project will represent the first deployment of elevated, pole-mounted EV chargers by an investor-owned utility in the United States.
“This year Melrose is celebrating 10 years as a Green Community,” said Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur. “This program is an important step in promoting EV adoption in our community, offsetting emissions, and moving us closer to our NetZero 2050 goal. I am incredibly thankful for the collaboration with National Grid in getting this project off the ground.” (No pun intended, we presume.)
The Melrose chargers, which include a mixture of single stations and dual stations, will be located at 10 sites throughout the city. Customers will use an app to lower the charging cable so it can be connected to the charging port of an EV. The information obtained from the project — how often are the chargers used, when, and for how long — will help the company design future EV partnerships with other cities and towns.
Pole-mounted EV chargers are just one of many efforts National Grid is undertaking to accelerate electric transportation in Massachusetts. Transportation accounts for 43% of carbon emissions in the Bay State, which makes a strong case for transitioning to electric vehicles as quickly as possible.
In 2018, National Grid received approval to invest $20 million to add 680 charging stations at workplaces, public places, multi-family dwellings, and for commercial and public fleets in Massachusetts. Of the 500 charging stations already installed, 70% are publicly accessible, while one-third of them are located in underserved communities. For people who must use on-street parking, pole-mounted EV chargers are the greatest idea since sliced bread.
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