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New Bedford charged up as new plug-in stations slide into place

NEW BEDFORD — It’s back to the future in New Bedford!

Six charging stations will be installed in the city today for the new crop of electric cars coming onto the market 98 years after Henry T. Ford put his first “Ford Electric” out for sale.

The plug-in spots will be located on the first floors of the Elm Street and Zeiterion garages and in the Acushnet Avenue International Marketplace parking lot, officials said.

“I think we all understand that energy-efficiency cars, they are a thing of the really not too distant future,” said Public Infrastructure Commissioner Ron Labelle. “We want to be in a position for New Bedford to take advantage of that and be on the cutting edge.”

In Massachusetts, 900 electric cars are now registered with the state, about double from just one year ago, said Stephen Russell, the coordinator of the state’s alternative transportation program.

Nationwide, electric cars made up 3.3 percent of auto sales in the first 10 months of 2012, up from 2.23 percent in 2011, according to data from the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

“We would envision that initially there will be either no or minimal activity on them, but over time, in the next two or three years, you’re going to see electric cars become much more prominent,” said Scott Durkee, director of the city’s energy office, who said he was not aware of any electric cars registered in New Bedford proper.

Just seven electric stations existed in Massachusetts in 2009, Russell said. Now there are 110, and the state has plans to install another 30, making for 25 communities with stations in the state, he said.

About $800,000 in stimulus money went to buy the stations, which cost about $7,000 each, he said. The state is providing $300,000 to cities and towns for installation costs, part of a push to reduce transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

“It really rolls into our Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires a significant reduction of CO2,” Russell said.

A standard compact sedan will produce about 87 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of a 100-mile trip, while an all-electric car produces just 54 pounds of carbon dioxide for the same distance, according to Department of Energy statistics. The fuel costs are $13.36 and $3.74, respectively.
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