Boston officials are calling for proposals to build curbside electric vehicle charging stations to help encourage EV adoption. These are chargers positioned on the curb next to street parking spots so an an EV driver can pull up, park and charge their car. The city is looking for developers to build chargers in multiple neighborhoods.
“We have so many people who don’t have off-street parking,” said Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Boston's Green New Deal director. “We want to see if we are able to integrate this into the curbside street-scape and meet some of the charging demand in places that people are parking their cars on the street.”
The city has issued two different requests for proposals: First, it is taking bids for companies to install privately owned curbside chargers in up to 30 different locations. Second the city is looking for a vendor to build and maintain 60 city-owned chargers in 15 locations.
The city-owned chargers would be funded by Boston's Streets Cabinet — a division that oversees the Transportation and the Public Works departments. The Cabinet has budgeted a total of $1.35 million for that project and to build 24 additional chargers in city parking lots. The chargers are expected to be available in six months to a year in Brighton, Allston, Hyde Park, Dorchester and Roxbury.
These municipal lot chargers will include 16 of the slower Level 2 and 8 fast chargers that function more like a gas station. Fast chargers take 20 minutes to an hour to charge to 80%, while Level 2 chargers can take up to 10 hours to recharge.
When it comes to the new curbside chargers, it's unclear how many would be equipped with fast chargers, which experts say are the best option for low-income communities. But fast chargers require more power and can be more expensive to install.
“Especially in communities, so not on a highway, fast charging almost always requires a pretty big upgrade in service," said Sellers-Garcia. "That’s like a new transformer, and all sorts of things. That’s a much bigger endeavor than Level 2 chargers.”
City officials are aiming for Boston to have 1,055 Level 2 chargers and 320 DC fast chargers by 2025. An analysis by Boston University showed that as of September 2022, the city was near its target for Level 2 chargers, but had only reached 13% of its fast charger goal.
The city also had set a goal that every household would be within a 10-minute walk of a publicly accessible EV charger by 2040, but accelerated its deadline to 2030. The change is in part in response to requests from city residents for more charging stations and greater availability of EVs, according to Mayor Michelle Wu's press office.
Proposals for each request are due by July 26, 2023.
“Ideally, we would like to make an award for these RFPs in August. It always takes a little bit of time, but we’d love to start putting in some of these stations this year,” Sellers-Garcia said.