ATLANTIC CITY — If more people used electric cars, the air would be cleaner and carbon emissions would be less, said Doug O’Malley, interim director of Environment New Jersey.
O’Malley was speaking Wednesday at The Wave Parking Garage, at the corner of Fairmount and Mississippi avenues, as part of his group’s statewide tour to promote electric vehicles. The garage was chosen because when it opened in the spring, it became the region’s second public electric car charging facility, after one in Avalon.
The $30 million structure has 1,180 parking spaces, including six 240-volt charging stations for electric vehicles. The electricity is free to parking cars, and it takes about 30 minutes to complete a charge.
Facilities like this are key to expanding the reach of electric vehicles, environmental groups say, because it allows them to travel farther and be more widely used.
O’Malley credited actions by the state in the last decade to make it this accessible. He also said pending federal vehicle efficiency standards, that will boost new cars to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, would help to reduce global warming and foreign oil dependence.
The state has 150 charging stations as of the end of July, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. That places it 21st, behind Pennsylvania, with 151 stations, and Wisconsin with 143.
With 2,814 stations, California has the most, and more than twice the second highest state.
In October, New Jersey signed a pledge with nine other states and the District of Columbia to create a regional network of charging stations along the East Coast.
State lawmakers have also taken steps to expand the number of charging stations, proposing bills that would install them in New Jersey’s highway rest stops and in new, larger shopping centers as well as provide tax credits for other installations.
The charging stations in the Atlantic City garage are on the first floor, about 50 yards away from large wall-mounted signs warning of potential flooding.
It is unclear how the electrical devices would fare in a saltwater flood. Kim Butler, director of communications for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which built the garage, said, “We haven’t had to experience that before.”
Chris Neff, 44, drove from Mendham, Morris County, to promote electric cars. He was one of several hundred people who tested BMW’s Mini Cooper E in 2009. Now, he drives a BMW ActiveE, taking part in the company’s plans to test the technology before a larger rollout in the next several years.
He loved the car, he said Wednesday. He owns a diesel Mercedes-Benz ML350 SUV and a Porsche 944 convertible, but said he does “70 percent” of his driving with the electric vehicle.
There is no transmission, and the higher-efficiency engine makes it feel like one is in second gear all the time.
“It’s comfortable, reliable, fun and, most importantly, efficient and better for our environment — the whole experience of driving an (electric vehicle) just seems right,” he said. “Most families in New Jersey have two or more cars — an (electric vehicle) just makes sense.”
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