LAWRENCE — It took NRG Energy’s CEO less time to power his car using the company’s first electric vehicle charging station in New Jersey than it would to charge his cellphone.
Within a little more than 30 minutes, David Crane’s black Nissan LEAF reached a full charge Wednesday morning in Quaker Bridge Mall’s parking lot outside Sears.
“I think the only downside of that maybe from the mall’s perspective is that they want the average customer to go in the mall for more than 30 minutes,” he said. “So maybe the fast-charger is working too well, but in any case, that’s the state of technology.”
Mall executives, elected officials and company representatives from NRG — which developed the new Freedom Station — held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the first in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia areas.
The site is now equipped with two chargers that deliver about 80 miles of range in approximately a half hour. A third onsite takes about three hours to power electric vehicles.
There are about 400 Freedom Stations in 26 cities, with more coming each month as NRG works with Simon mall leaders, Crane said.
“We are thrilled now to be able to offer customers access to convenient charging stations so those with electric cars can visit the center and shop and dine while reducing their carbon footprint,” mall manager Lynda Benedetto said.
Despite New Jersey’s progress in reducing air emissions, the state still does not meet ozone standards, said Bob Martin, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Out-of-state power plants and diesel-powered engines in and passing through New Jersey pose challenges, he said.
“It’s the main reason EV charging stations are so important to this state and other states across the country,” said Martin, noting investment in sustainable infrastructure will encourage use.
There are roughly 300 million light-duty vehicles on the roads in the United States, 80 million of which are somebody’s second or third vehicle driven locally to work or malls, Crane said.
Data show less than 1 percent of all cars — electric or not — are ever driven across the country, Crane said.
“NRG’s approach to electric vehicle charging is not to put electric vehicle charges in the middle of Nebraska so someone who’s taking I-80 from New York to California can charge,” he said. “It’s based on an urban, suburban ecosystem model.”
Without tail pipes, electric cars enhance local air quality and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, said Crane, who was in Saudi Arabia on Monday.
“While the United States has moved towards greater domestic oil production with seven to eight million barrels a day, we’re still importing seven million barrels of oil a day,” Crane said. “Even at a cost of $50 a barrel, that’s a billion dollars of American wealth going overseas every three days.”
Click to read more about EVgo in New Jersery.