Solar-Powered Public Charging Stations Will Keep New Yorker’s Phones Running

The ATT-powered devices will make their debut in the city’s parks today, ensuring no calls or texts get missed.

A year ago, when we covered the design firm Pensa’s pilot project to bring a solar-powered phone-charging station to a park in Brooklyn, we weren’t the only ones intrigued by the project’s potential to save lost tourists whose phones have died or other electricity-starved New Yorkers.


“This is an amazing project,” Chris Abbruzzese, VP for marketing of Goal Zero, says he remembers thinking. His company produces portable solar powered products that people use to charge their phones while camping, for example, “but this was basically taking that power and making it public,” he says. He reached out to Pensa, who, it turns out, was looking for a solar company to embrace the design. Now, in partnership with AT&T–which, in Abbruzzese’s words “knows NY” and is helping scout and get permitting to operate stations–they’re launching charging stations in nine different parks, starting today in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park.

Each station has enough USB ports to charge six phones at once. Energy is provided by three 15-watt solar panels and stored in lithium batteries inside the station. Goal Zero claims the device will work best in full sun but that its panels are efficient enough to produce power even when it’s shady.

The project is partially inspired by what happened during the extend power outages in Manahattan following Superstorm Sandy: everybody was looking for a place to charge their phones. AT&T ending up providing portable generators and noticed the opportunity for something more sustainable, says Abbruzzese.

Now he says Goal Zero’s goal is to have “between 25 and 30 units. So you’ll have two to three units per location, and it won’t only be public properties but it’ll also be various events that AT&T sponsors, like the Tribeca Film festival, Summer Stage at Central Park,” and so forth. Other parks where units will deploy this summer include Coney Island, Riverside Park, Randall’s Island, Governor’s Island, and Union Square, according to Goal Zero spokesman Mark Olson.

Sounds like a sponsorship opportunity that people will truly appreciate.

About the author

Zak Stone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a contributing editor of Playboy Digital. His writing has appeared in,, Los Angeles, The Utne Reader, GOOD, and elsewhere.