The City of LA Gets a Charge Out of its Street Lights

The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL) has a new, innovative curbside electric vehicle (EV) charging program that co-locates chargers with existing infrastructure to make EV charging more accessible to the public. The BSL has already installed more than 280 EV charging stations on light poles throughout the City.

The MSRC provided $300,000 in Clean Transportation Funding to help install 60 of these Level 2 smart chargers. The MSRC recognized the uniqueness of this project in that most EV chargers are located on private property – in parking lots, parking garages and single-family residences. These curbside chargers don’t have these restrictions, as they are accessible to the public 24 hours a day.

This universal accessibility, however, presented the City with a host of challenges, particularly how best to protect the equipment in public spaces from vandalism. The City worked with its engineering and maintenance staff and the equipment manufacturers to create sturdier enclosures for the equipment. They selected the most optimal sites and mounted the chargers nine feet above the sidewalk and attached them to existing street light poles connected to the street lighting circuit. The poles are located two feet from the curb, providing EV drivers with convenient access to the chargers.

The novel idea for curbside charging stations came from the adoption of LA’s Green New Deal Sustainability Plan, noted Angelica Frias, Smart City Strategist for the BSL. “In order to increase EV usage, the City needs to provide accessible charging to reduce range anxiety,” Angelica said. “Since the Bureau of Street Lighting installed LED fixtures citywide, it was determined that instead of installing an additional piece of equipment, to attach the EV charger directly on the street light.” The conversion to more efficient LED lighting reduced the electrical lighting load so that Level 2 chargers could be added to most of the existing electrical infrastructure without overloading the system.

According to the City, more than 130 MWh of electricity was dispensed to charging vehicles during the first 10 months of the program. The environmental impact from this is equivalent to reducing nearly 92 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or planting more than 1,500 trees.

The BSL’s website provides a map of the available curbside electric vehicle charging stations. More information is available here: