Spotted: Sidewalk car-charging station

UPDATED: See update below.

Huh, that’s cool. We didn’t even know you could install one of those car chargers for a street parking spot.

We spotted this Chevy Volt getting juiced up on Wharton Street near 11th, right across from the 3rd Police District building.

car charger (3)

But what happens when someone takes your parking spot?

car charger

car charger (2)


Anybody have any info on how you get one of these things in front of your house?

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UPDATE: Reader Brent Young sent us a picture of the parking sign, so combined with the helpful comments below, now we have all the details. Thanks, Brent

car charging sign


11 thoughts on “Spotted: Sidewalk car-charging station

  • March 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    It helps to have friends at the police station on the corner.

    • March 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Do you have actual knowledge of that, ambiguator? Or was that hypothetical?

  • March 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Looks like the charger is attached to a 2×4 in the ground, and the electric is running down the side. Might be as simple as running a conduit to the curb and then attaching the charger (no different then running electric to a tree to put up lights). Does the charger have a spool so it can connect a few cars down? My only concern would be vandalism to the equipment.

    • March 7, 2013 at 10:05 am

      My partner and I own the Volt pictured and installed the charger. No special favors were granted by the police! I have yet to write up the procedure for legally installing the charger and getting signage. When I do, it will be made available through PSCA. In a nutshell, there is a long application process, PPA must approve the space, and the installation requires a permit. The conduit can be installed by drilling under the sidewalk or by digging a trench. The charger is locked out for strangers, alarmed, and always connected to the owner’s WiFi with its own smartphone app. Vandalism is a valid concern, but the benefits of owning an electric car are significant.

      • March 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

        Thanks for that helpful info, Ted. So, does this mean you have a dedicated street parking spot now? Talk about extra incentive. And how much did the whole thing cost? And to the skeptical ambiguator, there was a permit filed for a car charging station on 12/19/12.

        • March 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm

          Technically, the spot does not belong to us. It’s like a handicapped space. We pay yearly to reserve it (somewhere around $75, but I don’t have the exact number in front of me). It is unlikely, but possible, that someone with an electric car could park there and not move. Two things could be done: Ask the police to run the plates and make a phone call, or run the cable behind the car. It’s 20 feet long and the Volt’s charge port is in the front. I’m not worried about this issue at all. Concerning cost: The charger is free through a program I’ll write about later. Installation is around $2,000. I’ll crunch the final numbers later as well.

          • March 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

            There’s a fancier car-charging station being installed on 9th, just south of Wharton.

            For all this expense ($2,000 to install charger + $75/year for the space), are you saving anything over a high-mileage gasoline car? According to this report from the Mother Nature Network (, you’re actually harming the environment less by driving a Prius in PA than you are if you drive an electric car, since we generate most of our electricity from coal here.

            Not trying to be provocative, I just don’t know much about how all this works out. What other advantages are there to driving an EV?

          • March 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm

            One more thing–I totally agree that, over time, the power grid will get cleaner in PA and that will negate my point about electric vs. gas.

  • March 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    We get our electricity from the Energy Coop – all local wind and solar. No coal or gas. As far as the expense, how much would anyone in the City pay as a one time amount for a “dedicated” parking space? Worth every penny to us. One advantage in owning our EV is that 99% of our driving is all electric. When we go on a long trip, we use the generator on the highway, which gets around 35 mpg. Then, electric around town or stop-and-go. The major advantage: We pay virtually nothing for our usual driving. Crunching the numbers is very complex, as braking and coasting charge the battery. Also driving style. We have a fixed electric rate, and our iPhone app through the Blink network tells us how many pounds of CO2 we’ve saved from the environment and our approx cost per mile. But, I can’t really get into all the details here, but we traded in two old gas cars for one Volt. Everyone’s situation is different, so I can’t say categorically that our solution is the right one for everybody. For more info, the Chevy website and Wikipedia for the Volt are interesting reads. Oh, “fancier” charger? I’m jealous already! I’ll have to take a walk down there and drool… 😉

    • March 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      I should mention something about the application: It assumes you already have an electric car and requires proof of registration before applying for a charging space. Don’t go out and buy an EV only to be turned down by PPA! Send in the application and leave the registration and vehicle info section blank. Ask for a feasibility determination for a charging space. PPA will investigate your property and send you a feasibility determination. Then, go buy your EV without having to worry about where to charge it.

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