DOE Pilot Brings First Curbside Charging Station to Illinois, Expands Access


To advance the equitable adoption of electric vehicles throughout northern Illinois, ComEd joined the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) and members of the Bronzeville community to commission the latest EV charging station as part of a first-of-its-kind U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) pilot to boost charging access for communities with limited access.

The pilot brings five new EV charging stations to Bronzeville, including the first curbside charging station located anywhere in the state of Illinois, and marks a milestone in advancing efforts to boost EV charging access and support an equitable transition to EVs in Illinois. Because densely populated areas have limited access to EV charging, and fewer parking lots to accommodate public charging infrastructure, curbside charging will be critical for EV adoption in these areas.

“ComEd is committed to supporting a clean energy future in northern Illinois, and increasing charging access for our customers is a key component to greater EV adoption,” says Melissa Washington senior vice president of Customer Operations and Strategy at ComEd. “The air quality and sustainability benefits of EVs are vast, but we know that financial barriers and access to charging can be challenging. That is why programs like this charging pilot are so impactful in not only supporting air quality but also ensuring equitable access to this critical technology.”

The $3 million project, including DOE grant funding and ComEd matching funds, is part of a larger study being conducted by national partners, including the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), to understand how to bring charging to more low-income communities. Since the start of this pilot in 2022, the five Bronzeville chargers installed throughout the community have served nearly 300 unique drivers and more than 2,800 charging sessions.

“Pilot projects like this show how we can make EV ownership accessible to more people by expanding crucial access to EV charging, especially for people living in multifamily housing in communities harmed by tailpipe emissions,” says John Gartner, senior director of transportation programs at the nonprofit CSE. “We look forward to collaborating with ComEd on new efforts to electrify commercial fleets, trucks and buses, which often disproportionately impact these same communities.”

CSE led a nationwide team of EV infrastructure experts in developing resources to accelerate EV charging at apartment buildings and condominiums as part of the DOE’s Vehicle Charging Innovations for Multi-Unit Dwellings (VCI-MUD) project. CSE administers EV and charging incentive programs in a dozen states.

Growing the network of public charging is a key component of Illinois’ call for adding one million EVs to the road by 2030, outlined in the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). There are nearly 100,000 registered EVs in Illinois, with the number steadily climbing, and prompting EV charging infrastructure to expand to match the demand.

The DOE pilot addresses unique challenges in charging access for occupants of multi-unit development (MUD) residences. National research reveals that while 80% of EV charging takes place at private residences, only 5% of home charging takes place at MUDs. More MUD charging is needed to level the playing field, as nearly one-third of residences in the United States are multi-unit dwellings with five units or more.

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