Solar-Powered Phone Charging Stations Launch in Union Square

By Heather Holland on June 20, 2013 12:48pm 

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 The city partnered with AT&T to roll out solar phone charging stations at 13 city parks by summer's end.
Solar-Powered Phone Charging Stations Open in Union Square
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UNION SQUARE — Two sleek new solar-powered charging towers launched in Union Square Wednesday, as part of a pilot program to bring the sun-fueled stations to parks across the city. 

Sponsored by AT&T, the charging stations were installed on the public plaza at Broadway near 17th Street and in the western seating area inside Union Square Park, said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership.

“We are thrilled that AT&T has chosen Union Square as one of its pilot sites for this brand-new amenity,” Falk said. “We have a lot of park users who utilize our free Wi-Fi Internet service, and now they can also charge their phones while they’re enjoying lunch at our bistro tables and chairs.”

The mayor's office launched the pilot after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to much of Lower Manhattan, leaving people without a way to charge their phones, Falk said.

The solar-powered charging stations have also already been rolled out in Riverside Park, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, in Brooklyn Bridge Park and on Governors Island.

By the end of the summer, 25 units will be installed at locations including Central Park, Randall’s Island, the High Line, Hudson River Park, Rockaway Beach, Coney Island, the Clearview Golf Course and the Staten Island Zoo, AT&T said.

The charging towers were designed by a city-based design consulting company Pensa and the solar panels were provided by Goal Zero, a distributor based in Utah. Each unit has USB and micro USB ports that support both iPhones and Android phones.

When the units are fully charged, the stations have enough power to last for five days. About eight people can charge their phones at a station at one time, Falk said.

“They’re very unobtrusive, and quite elegant for a solar charging station,” Falk said. “So, having more in the park would just be an added bonus for all our park visitors.”

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