It’s hard going for today’s electric car pioneers. Charging stations are scarce, travel distance is limited, and at Atlantic City’s newest parking garage, you have to worry about the floods.
Wait — the what?
Signs at the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s new “Wave” garage in the Ducktown neighborhood warn drivers they cannot park overnight on the ground floor because “area subject to flooding.”
These signs are placed just feet away from a half-dozen always-turned-on car chargers, which can pump out as much as 240 volts of force. That is similar to the heavy-duty outlets that power household stoves or clothes dryers, and is strong enough to fully charge a car in a half hour.
Angellina Jaworski, 32, was leaving the garage with her daughter to do some shopping Friday. She hadn’t previously noticed the signs, but whey they were pointed out she said, “It seems like something that would be on Jay Leno.”
So, if their new $30 million garage might flood, why did the CRDA place the electric chargers on the ground floor?
CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler said the agency placed the charging stations on the ground floor to make them more visible to patrons as well as to “prominently showcase our commitment to green energy.” The CRDA spent about $5,000 apiece on the stations, from Coulomb Technologies Inc. The power they provide is free to people who pay to park there.
The signs were placed to comply with the state Department of Environmental Protection, Butler said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps indicate the garage, like most of Atlantic City, is at a significant risk for flooding in a 100-year storm. That describes a storm with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year.
In a 100-year storm, FEMA maps show the garage could wind up in 10 feet of water.
Keith Mills, Atlantic City’s planner, said in an email that charging stations were not discussed when staff reviewed the plans in 2009. The CRDA typically submits its building plans to the city for review, but as an independent authority it has never needed the city’s approval.
State and local officials rely on the National Electrical Code, published by the National Fire Protection Association, to handle electrical installations. The most recent edition, published in 2011, does not directly address the installation of a car-charging stations in potential flood zones.
However, Mark W. Earley, NFPA’s chief electric engineer, said that “if one knows the area is likely to be flooded, then it’s not a good idea to put them there.”
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