City Light is helping power the Electric Vehicle Revolution in the Pacific Northwest!
City Light is committed to helping our customers make the most of their electric service, and that includes electric vehicles. Here’s some information to get you started on your way to getting “Plug-In Ready”
There are three basic types of electric vehicles
Hybrid Vehicles are powered by a gasoline engine and one or more electric motors. The battery is charged as the vehicle drives, so the vehicle is powered ultimately by gasoline.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles are powered by a gasoline engine and electric motor, but they have a larger battery pack than a hybrid vehicle which can be recharged from the grid.
Battery Electric Vehicles are powered by an electric motor and battery alone. Electric vehicles can travel farther on electricity than plug-in hybrids, but their range is more limited.
Generally speaking, there are two levels of electric car charging for residential applications. Charging times depend on the size of your car’s battery. You’ll want to consult with an electrician to make sure your electrical service is capable of supporting the additional load:
Level I – Standard 110volt outlet
Depending on the battery size, an electric vehicle will recharge from “empty” in about 8-12 hours, using a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
Level II – 240volt outlet
Similar in wattage to a dryer or hot water heater, a Level II charger will recharge an electric vehicle in about 4 hours.
For City of Seattle customers, and contractors working in the Seattle city limits, please see the Department of Planning & Development's Client Assistance Memos (CAMs).
CAM 132 – Installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger for Single Family and Multifamily Homes (http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam132.pdf).
CAM 133 – Installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger for Commercial Properties (http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam133.pdf).
For Suburban Cities, and areas of Unincorporated King County in the City Light Service District, please contact your local jurisdiction for any specific installation guidelines.
When deciding on an electrician, it's always best to get three or more estimates – you might be surprised at the variability in quotes. Make sure the contractors are licensed and bonded, and it's a good idea to ask if they are familiar with Seattle City Light's policies and standards.
Once you have selected an electrician, he or she can determine whether your current electrical service is capable of handling the increased load, or if additional capacity is required. If your service does need to be upgraded, a City Light Electrical Service Representative will need to approve your proposed service location, and check to make sure that our transformer and the wires that serve your house can handle the increased load. If City Light crews need to come to your home to make connections or do meter work, installation charges may apply.
Call City Light prior to doing any work. It can make your project run smoother, and avoid problems with transformer performance. To reach us, call our Customer Engineering Department at (206) 615-0600.
Before a charging station can be installed, your electrician is required to open an electrical permit with your local municipality. For Seattle residents, the Department of Planning and Development issues the permits, and is committed to responding to inspection requests within three days. Other municipalities have similar policies.
Once you have a permit, the charging station can be installed. When the work is completed, your electrician will call for an electrical inspection, and if all goes smoothly, your new charger will be approved for connection. If corrections are required, the electrical inspector will let your electrician know what needs to be done.
Adding an electric vehicle can significantly increase your electricity consumption. For example, driving a Nissan Leaf for 10,000 miles is expected to use 2,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That adds up to about $175 for about a year's worth of driving at City Light's low rates. The average Seattle resident uses about 9,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year at home, so adding a car, increases consumption by nearly 30 percent. Just remember that this cost is offset because you're no longer paying at the pump for fuel.
For more information on City Light's Electric Transportation Program, please contact Dan Langdon, City Light's Electric Transportation Project Manager at 206.684.8441, or contact him at
Seattle City Light not only wants to help customers learn about electric vehicles, we’re choosing them for our own fleet as well!.
We have nine diesel-hybrid “bucket trucks” in our line service fleet. The trucks run like a regular hybrid during driving, but the real magic starts when workers pull up to a worksite and use the aerial lift, or “bucket”: When the engine is turned off, all of the hydraulic controls are driven by a device called the electronic power take off (EPTO), which operates the truck's hydraulic pump. When the charge on the battery gets low, the engine starts up automatically, runs long enough to charge it up, and then shuts itself off.
Without the engine running, the worksite is quiet; allowing crews to communicate better, which in turn improves safety - and our customers don't have to listen to the drone of an engine in the early morning or late evening. Plus, customers and workers both benefit from significantly less diesel emissions, compared to a standard truck.
From a fuel standpoint, we've seen significant savings - 60-70 percent - over standard utility vehicles, both in mileage and in fuel used during idling. Less idling leads to lower maintenance costs.
For our engineering and customer service field staff, we’ve made a significant investment in the Toyota Prius, and most recently in the all-electric Nissan Leaf. City Light is purchasing twelve Leaf’s, believing that they are uniquely suited for our geographically concentrated service area, and will show significant savings in operation and maintenance.
These marvels of clean technology demonstrate how City Light continues to find ways of blending our business with environmental stewardship.