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(photo by Ev Connect)

CITYWIDE — When it comes to charging electric vehicles, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

Santa Monica is now home to seven new, publicly-accessible electrical vehicle charging stations that have been strategically placed in high-traffic areas like Santa Monica Place, the Civic Center and Montana Avenue, city officials announced this week.

The stations were installed by Culver City, Calif.-based EV Connect, which is working on several state-funded infrastructure projects to entice people to purchase electric vehicles and help reduce carbon emissions.

“We’re pushing forward on all fronts in Santa Monica to make this a plug-in friendly city,” said Dean Kubani, manager of City Hall’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. “We’re leading the way and proactively looking at all avenues to create infrastructure support for alternatively-fueled vehicles. We’re pleased EV Connect helped make it easier for EV drivers to fuel up in Santa Monica.”

Electric vehicles are classified by the U.S. Department of Energy as vehicles that are propelled by an electric motor (or motors) powered by rechargeable battery packs.

While electric vehicles convert more chemical energy from their batteries to power the wheels than traditional cars, and emit no tailpipe emissions, there are challenges related to the batteries. Most EVs can only go about 100 to 200 miles before recharging; gasoline vehicles can go over 300 miles before refueling. Fully recharging the battery pack can take four to eight hours while filing up a tank with gasoline takes only a matter of minutes.

John O’Dell, senior editor at Santa Monica-based Edmunds.com, an automotive information Web site, said he is looking forward to using the new charging stations. He currently drives from his home in Orange County to his office in Santa Monica — a 104-mile round trip — but has not been able to use his electric car because of the distances involved.

“These Santa Monica stations will help make it possible for me to drive my cleanest car to work without worrying about whether I’ll have sufficient juice to make it home,” O’Dell said. “As public charging stations become more common, EVs will become a viable option for more people. That’s a good thing.”

The new charging stations can be found at the following locations:

• Civic Center

• Santa Monica Place

• Santa Monica Pier

• Virginia Avenue Park

• Virginia Avenue Police Substation

• Santa Monica Airport

• Montana Avenue at 11th Street

kevinh@smdp.com