Philadelphia buys hundreds of electric vehicles but not enough chargers

Philadelphia’s initiative to transition to electric vehicles for official city use faces a significant hurdle as a surge in demand has overwhelmed the limited charging infrastructure.

According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, public charging locations experience frequent congestion, with extensive queues of both electric car users and city employees seeking access to the scarce number of charging stations.

The Municipal Clean Fleet Plan, introduced in 2021, aimed to gradually replace the city’s 5,000 gasoline-powered vehicles with electric alternatives. Despite Philadelphia boasting 261 electric vehicles, there are only 107 charging stations available to power them.

Compounding the issue is the inconvenient placement of many chargers, with only a fraction situated in the parking lots of corresponding departments, exacerbating the strain on the existing infrastructure.

An investigation by NBC 10 Philadelphia revealed that numerous electric vehicle chargers are positioned in fleet shops designated for car maintenance or near city facilities where electric vehicles are not commonly used, such as police districts and prisons.

Remarkably, some departments, like the Licenses and Inspections Department, lack chargers in their parking lots despite having a higher number of electric vehicles compared to other city departments, further complicating the charging logistics.

“These charges were installed by each different department,” Dominic McGraw, Philadelphia’s deputy director of energy services, told NBC 10 Philadelphia. “I think that there was just some confusion around the need for permits, and we’re currently rectifying that.” 

“We’re figuring things out as we go and seeing what works, what works and what doesn’t,” McGraw added. 

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