Pinecrest Gardens is now home to a free, public fast-charging station for electric cars.
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez took one of the village’s Nissan Leaf electric cars for a spin on Tuesday to the station located in the northeast area of the parking lot.
“This allows Pinecrest to continue its leadership in sustainability efforts and in engaging the community to understand the importance of being more responsible in the ways we live our lives,” said Lerner, who was recently appointed as president of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and vice chair of the National League of Cities 2014 Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Steering Committee.
The village’s building and planning department has two Nissan Leafs of its own and has a private charging station at Village Hall.
Lerner said the village was budgeting for public charging stations this year when Pinecrest resident Ethan Shapiro brought a grant opportunity to the council’s attention. The Village Council accepted a $17,569 donation from Nissan in December 2013 for the station.
Shapiro, 36, said although he wakes up each morning with a 300-mile charge on his Tesla Model S and his “gas” only feet away from where he parks his electric car each night, it’s not fun when “you’re out in the wild and you have to wait for it to charge.”
The station’s “fast charging” capability is 44kW compared to a standard home charge of 6kW. This means a Nissan LEAF can charge from zero to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes, for example.
Nissan, Mitsubishi and Tesla electric car owners can use it, but Tesla owners need to buy an adapter which should be available within the next four weeks.
And while only one person can charge at a time, Shapiro has posted the location to Plugshare — a mobile app that electric car owners use to check in when they are charging so others can see when the station is occupied and when it’s available.
“Within an hour of posting it, someone had checked in to charge their car,” he said.
And electric car use is growing.
According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, there were 96,702 new plug-ins in service in the United States in 2013 and another 5,905 have hit the road since the new year.
Lerner said she will be purchasing an electric car herself once her hybrid lease is up in June.
She said the village’s next step is to change the building code to require new commercial developments to furnish electrical connections and charging stations in their parking lots.
The Pinecrest station is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during fall and winter months, and will extend its hours to 6 p.m. in the spring and summer. It will be open later during evening events at the Gardens.
“While recharging their car batteries, owners can stroll the garden, take their kids to the playground or exercise at the community center,” Shapiro said. “I can’t think of a better place to spend a leisurely hour charging my batteries.”