Electric vehicle charging would be piggybacked on established streetlights in the Kansas City as a means to increase connectivity in areas where there are currently no charging outlets. The non-profit Metropolitan Energy Center is leading the federally financed pilot project, which includes the city as well as utility Evergy as partners. By the completion of the year, they expect to have chargers mounted on 30 – 60 streetlights.

When it comes to the charging stations, Kansas City is a pioneer; according to a new Rocky Mountain Institute report, it is the region’s best city for the electric vehicle facilities. However, the infrastructure is not distributed equally across the city. “There are certain areas of the city which don’t have the same connection to electric vehicle charging as others,” stated Miriam Bouallegue, who serves as the energy center’s green transportation project leader. “All we’re doing is attempting to fill in any gaps.”

Each of the light poles will be fitted with one charger, as planned. Customers would reimburse for every kilowatt-hour of electricity used, but state utility authorities would have to set a standard. Most of the progress so far has been focused on determining the best places for the charging points to be installed. Planners like to put them near “points of interest” like restaurants, apartment buildings, schools, as well as churches. They mapped those sites in collaboration with the Missouri University of Science and Technology and found around 300 lights which met the requirements.

A second map, created in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, illustrates air pollution, rental property concentrations, and electric vehicle adoption growth rates. When one map was overlaid on top of the other, 80 places covering about 60 communities remained in play. Other considerations include the fact that not all the streetlights have sufficient electrical energy to charge an EV battery. They also don’t want to create tripping hazards as their charging equipment requires a short cord. Furthermore, certain streetlight positions are inconvenient for nearby parked vehicles.

Volker, a neighborhood minutes from downtown that abuts a massive medical center and contains a combination of the walk-up apartment blocks as well as single-family homes, the majority of which was constructed a century ago, is one of the areas they’re looking at. 39th Street, a largely two-lane commercial street mainly inhabited by restaurants and antique clothing shops, runs through the city’s center.

The sound of the charging pilot piqued the interest of Patrick Faltico, who serves as the president of Volker Neighborhood Association, who invited developers to clarify the venture to the community a few weeks ago. Despite the worries of some owners of the business on 39th Street about forfeiting parking spaces in the area where the parking is already scarce, Faltico stated he detected a lot of interest from the community.

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By Adam