Kansas City Engages Community To Expand Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

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Researchers are working to expand access to electric vehicles (EVs) by building more charging stations in neighborhoods that otherwise might be overlooked.

Scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are partnering with the Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) and other organizations to increase the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Kansas City, Missouri, by installing charging units on existing streetlights. NREL and MEC are working closely with nonprofit organizations, academia, local government, and community members to ensure the station location selection focuses on providing equitable access to EV charging.

“There is a real risk that electric vehicle adoption will be concentrated to limited geographic and demographic markets, minimizing the benefits to underserved populations that are already more susceptible to lower air quality and higher vehicle ownership burdens,” said Erin Nobler, a project manager with NREL and one of the lead researchers on this project.

The streetlight charging stations will be available for anyone to use. They also will be located in residential areas to support overnight charging.

Most electric vehicle charging happens at home. But people who live in apartment buildings or other multifamily housing do not always have garages or other places to plug in an electric vehicle.

“Folks can park their car curbside as they normally would, go into their apartment, and in the morning their car will be charged,” said Miriam Bouallegue, a sustainable transportation project manager with MEC, the lead partner on the project. MEC houses the Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition, which is part of a coordinated group of more than 75 coalitions throughout the country working to advance affordable domestic fuels and technologies.

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