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Norwalk Leads Charge for Electric Cars

Waiting for a Leaf is getting old, but Stephen Epstein isn't waiting for the future of energy efficiency. He's working to make it happen.

Epstein, owner of Bartoli Electric, installs charging stations for electric cars. He's also buying one. And when Epstein gets it, he'll be able to not only charge it in the garage, but also at the charging stations at the South Norwalk Train Station, the Yankee Doodle Garage and the Maritime Garage.

Norwalk is the first municipality in Fairfield County, and perhaps the first in Connecticut, to install car-charging stations at a parking facility. They were installed at no cost to the city.

"It's very exciting," said Lucas Strozek of Stamford, owner of a Tesla . "It's the first one I know of. I mean, the Whole Foods in Darien has one, so when I go to Whole Foods I charge it up. But a train station would make a big difference. I hope the other towns will take the example."

Kathryn Hebert, director of the Parking Authority, said the city wants to be prepared. "About six or seven months ago, Mayor [Richard] Moccia asked me to look into installing electric vehicle chargers in our municipal facilities," she said. "We discussed the need to be prepared when people start buying electric vehicles, specifically the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, and they need a place to charge them."

Epstein was at the Sono Train Station on Monday to show off the electric vehicle charging station he installed there. He admitted there's a "cart before the horse" aspect to the issue.

"Charging stations are great to have, but if you don't have cars, what good is it?" he said. "But the timing has to be right. Because if you come out with cars and you don't have charging stations, so it's like what do you do first?"

Hebert said the technology and the cars need the support.

"The only way this will take off is if there's lots of them all over the place like gas stations, and also the technology needs to catch up because you don't get much out of them," Hebert said.

Epstein said if electric vehicles make up only 20 percent of the cars on the road, that's still 20 percent less oil being used. He signed up to buy a Nissan Leaf as soon as they were announced, about 10 months ago. "I've been waiting for a Leaf and they were supposed to be out Feb. 1 but they've pushed them back 10 months."

He's disappointed, but determined to buy an electric car. It might be a Leaf. "I'm on a list. We'll see what happens, so many people are coming out with them."

Would you ever buy an electric car? What about a hybrid? Leave a comment below.

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