On Friday, Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council announced the creation of a joint task force to study ways Philadelphia can encourage — or at least not impede — city residents’ adoption of electric vehicles.
All-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids require outlets in order to recharge their batteries, which take hours to fully reload. In suburban settings, this isn’t a problem, as most homes have driveways and garages. But in a city like Philadelphia, where off-street parking is relatively rare, it can be a logistical nightmare.
City Council pulled the plug on Philadelphia’s prior attempt at addressing that issue, which allowed electric vehicle (EV) owners to convert on-street parking spots into EV-only spots and build a curbside electrical socket to recharge their cars.
While just 68 residents took advantage of the program, that was enough to raise the ire of some of their neighbors, who complained to Councilmembers Mark Squilla and David Oh about what they saw as unfair treatment. Squilla and Oh co-sponsored legislation to suspend the old program for a year, promising to replace it with something better.
That’s the new Electric Vehicle Task Force’s mission: Come up with something better.
“The old program was a good program to get electric vehicles jump started in the city, but its not something that can be scaled up everywhere,” said Chris Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS). “There just isn't enough parking spaces in front of everyone's house.”
“We want to try to find other ways where we can encourage the growth of electric vehicles and understand their needs without creating other problems,” he added.
The task force includes representatives from OTIS, SEPTA, the Streets Department, the Office of Sustainability, Licenses and Inspections, the PPA, Squilla, Oh, and three residents who own EVs. OTIS It expects to issue a report listing recommendations for City Council and the Kenney Administration sometime in early 2018.
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