With the opening of an electric vehicle charging station Tuesday at , the has inched closer to its goal of .
Two charging stations were installed by LA-based 350Green in the closest parking spots to the Bloomingdale’s main entrance. A Tesla Roadster and a THINK car were busily sucking in 220 volts Tuesday morning, while outside, representatives from the city, the mall, 350Green and Chamber of Commerce cut a large green ribbon.
“,” said Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa. “In two years, you’re going to see electric vehicles everywhere you go in this town, and they’re going to need to plug in.”
The charging stations, which will be free of charge to users, were installed in just two days, which is typical, but not without some permitting hurdles. The city dragged out the process for a week and a half, according to 350Green CEO Mariana Gerzanych.
“It’s long,” said Gerzanych. “In other markets, it takes a day.” 350Green installed the charging stations and has contracts to install many more throughout the Bay Area.
Espinosa agreed that there is room for improvement in the permitting process.
“We’re not there yet, and we know that,” he said. “Having spoken with members of the Utilities Advisory Commission and city staff and the city manager on down, there’s a commitment to make this work. We know that this is the future. We know that we’re going to have people at home and at their businesses in just a couple of years all across this city needing EV chargers.”
Stanford Mall received Level Two, or 220-volt, stations, according to Gerzanych, who called recharging in stations like these “topping off,” because they are designed for short-distance drivers who aren’t likely to need a full recharge upon arrival.
“You usually don’t drive 100 miles to the mall, which is the range of a Nissan Leaf,” she said. “When you come here, you maybe drive 10 miles, 15 miles, but then an hour will top off your car and fill it up.”
George Caraghiaur, senior vice president of Energy & Procurement for Simon Property Group, which runs the mall, said the charging stations are part of a larger commitment the company has to sustainability.
“We started a process in 2009 to become greener,” he said, “and now we reduce 200,000 tons less carbon every year and are saving $7.5 million in operating costs. Today, the installation of these car charging stations is simply a little step on our sustainability trek.”
The ribbon-cutting was organized by the , which has stepped up its efforts to promote its members' green efforts.
“The chamber always tries to work with the city on any initiative to improve the environment,” said Dan Dykwel, chairman of the chamber board. "We can be real advocates with our media to help get the word out and send that positive message."
Espinosa said that though it's only a first step, building the EV station at Stanford Mall is an important and symbolic one.
“Not everybody has realized that this is the future, or that we’re going through a revolution, or that the planet is in enough crisis that we all need to support this movement. Today we’re seeing the exact opposite of that. Today we’re seeing companies step forward and say we will make that investment so that we will protect this planet.”