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Shop n' Charge, Local Mall Unveils Electric Car Charging Stations

Pennsylvania ranks 19th in number of public electric car charging stations with 270 outlets—make that 274.

The Mall at Robinson Thursday unveiled four new car charging stations powered by solar panels mounted above the mall’s food court entrance.

Mall General Manager Beth Edwards said the stations take about 2 hours to fully charge an empty battery. That’s six times faster than the average at-home charge.

The solar panels are “actually offsetting the eight kilowatts that are needed for four full charges of the station,” Edwards said.

In other words, it costs the mall almost nothing to operate the stations.

The outlets are also free to all shoppers. Visitors using the stations are eligible to receive shopping promotions, as well as the chance to earn a $25 gift card for using the outlets 10 times.

Shema Krinsky, marketing director for the Mall at Robinson, expects more businesses to make charging stations available to the public.

“I think you’re going to see other companies like the Mall at Robinson embrace the electric car chargers,” she said. “It’s something that’s important that we need to do as a city.”

A kiosk has also been installed in the food court for shoppers to monitor the energy created by the solar panels.

Because of its proximity to Pittsburgh International Airport, Krinsky said she expects to see more travelers with electric cars visiting the mall.

“It’s important that when you map out your drive, you know where there’s going to be a point where you can charge because they don’t hold, obviously, forever,” she said. “So, maybe on your way to the airport you stop here before you’re going to be leaving your car there for a long time or vice versa.”

There were 134 electric vehicles registered in Allegheny County in 2013, with electric and hybrid cars making up about .2 percent of all Pennsylvania vehicles, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

The charging stations were donated by power management company Eaton and WESCO Distribution.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."