New Orleans: Big Easy to make life easier for electric car owners?

Nissan unveils New Orleans' first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Nissan unveils New Orleans’ first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Enlarge Photo

New Orleans has a hot-and-cold relationship with environmentally friendly technology.

Last week, however, the two were definitely on good terms as the city council voted unanimously to make life easier for current and future electric car owners.

Crescent City crises

Given the New Orleans’ tenuous location–sandwiched between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, surrounded by swamps, with much of the metro area below sea level–you’d think the city would’ve long ago embraced green tech with open arms.

But despite the risque, fleshy photos taken during Carnival, New Orleans has a deeply conservative streak. In the suburbs, the streak runs far redder.

Remember: this is oil country. It’s also the hometown of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and disgraced U.S. Senator David Vitter.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car

Nissan unveils New Orleans' first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Nissan unveils New Orleans’ first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Enlarge Photo

Temperaments began shifting to the left eleven years ago, as New Orleans began the long process of recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Solar panels became a more common sight on homes. Neighborhoods destroyed by the federal floods rebuilt using new, sustainable designs.

And in our many, many conversations about food, we began to prioritize locally sourced ingredients.

Electric cars, however, haven’t been so fortunate. There are precious few charging stations to be found in New Orleans, and owners have been prevented from installing them on sidewalks.

That’s been a major setback for would-be buyers, because most homes in the city’s historic neighborhoods lack driveways, much less garages.

As a result, people have to park their vehicles on the street. That’s made us great parallel parkers, but offered little inducement to purchase a Tesla Model S or Nissan Leaf, since there’s no convenient way to charge them.

Nissan unveils New Orleans' first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Nissan unveils New Orleans’ first public charging station for electric cars (photo: Richard Read)

Enlarge Photo

Meanwhile, at city hall…

Late last week, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance and a resolution that could make the city a little more friendly to electric cars.

The ordinance contained two provisions, which direct the City Planning Commission to consider the following:

1. Counting electric car charging spaces in total parking lot counts: Currently, real estate developers aren’t able to count electric car charging spaces as parking spaces. As a result, they’re essentially penalized for including charging spots. The ordinance suggests not only lifting that penalty, but also offering incentives to developers who include charging spaces in their construction plans.

2. Allowing electric car owners to apply for permits to install curbside charging stations for electric vehicles:¬†This is, of course, a complicated issue. How will owners ensure that they have the ability to park near their own charger? What happens when owners move? The solution is likely to be complicated and months, if not years away, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The resolution was aimed at Mayor Mitch Landrieu and encouraged him and his staff to (a) install more chargers on New Orleans’ streets, and (b) add more electric vehicles to the city’s fleet.

It’s not legally binding, but Landrieu has been a big proponent of sustainability during his time in office, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll see some movement on this front, too.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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