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Electric car chargers open at Robinson mall

By David Singer
Staff writer
dsinger@thealmanac.net
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David Singer / The Almanac
The four car chargers set up outside the food court entrance at the Mall at Robinson boast a two-hour full-charge time.
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Shoppers can now charge their car, in addition to credit cards, while shopping at the Mall at Robinson.


The card charges may cost shoppers, but the free electric chargers won’t.


A new solar-powered car charging station in the mall’s parking lot near the food court entrance will allow up to four hybrid or electric cars to go from a dead battery to full charge in nearly two hours.


David Jason, Scott Township board of commissioners president and a lead organizer on the project, is a partner with Green Roads Energy, the company that installed the chargers donated by power management company Eaton and WESCO Distribution.


“Hopefully, there will be a change in the public’s mindset soon, where these chargers will be set up at areas where you’ll spend some time, like shopping, or at a movie theater, and allow your car to charge,” Jason said.


The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened four separate charging stations in the spring, and the four stations in Robinson bring the state’s tally of stations to 274. Those looking to take advantage of the growing number of charge stations can apply for a grant up to $2,000 toward the purchase of a plug-in hybrid through the state’s Alternative Fuels Incentive program. Electric vehicles make up less than one percent of registrations, according to data from the state Department of Transportation.


Though support for electric cars and solar-powered charge stations is growing, the demand for solar power at home has taken a hit.


Jason’s company, based in Mt. Lebanon, was looking for other private and commercial projects since the solar market in Pennsylvania dipped in 2011.


“The renewable energy credits were at one time of very high value, back in 2010. These are the credits you get from the state through your electric company for running solar energy. But there was so much solar building that year, there was an overabundance of the solar credits, which drove the price down tremendously,” he said. “But every year the state increases the amount of SRECs that have to be produced used by the commonwealth, so they’re starting to catch up and gain value.”


A major incentive for new home-based solar projects has disappeared. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection website, the agency’s grant monies for private solar projects has dried up. More than $100 million in rebates from the state Sunshine Solar program were awarded to homeowners in the past three years.


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