Soon, New York City's electric-car drivers will have an easier time finding a parking space.

A new law will make 20 percent of the city's off-street parking charger-ready over the next decade or more.

Giving drivers more places to charge plug-in electric cars, in a city where spaces are as coveted as any other real estate, could help make zero-emission electric cars more appealing to New Yorkers.

While New York City has by far the nation's largest and most comprehensive mass-transit infrastructure, it is not universally distributed across the city's five boroughs.

Roughly half of New York City's 8.3 million residents drive their own cars at least once a day.

The law, as codified in Intro. 1176, will require new off-street parking facilities--such as garages and surface lots--to build in sufficient electrical capacity to accommodate charging stations for 20 percent of their spaces. The mandate also applies to existing structures enlarged to the point that they require increased electrical service.

In addition, the law sets standards for the electrical hardware, requiring a minimum of 3.1 kilowatts of capacity for electric-car charging.

The legislation is expected to create a total of 10,000 charger-ready parking spots, roughly 5,000 of which should become available over the next seven years. New York City currently has just under 200 electric-car charging stations.

2012 Mitsubishi i electric car, New York City, August 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i electric car, New York City, August 2012

In addition to encouraging the use of electric cars in New York City, legislators believe building charger-readiness into new parking facilities will ultimately be less expensive than retrofitting existing structures with charging stations.

Intro. 1176 is a concrete step toward outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to reserve one-fifth of the city's new parking spaces for electric cars.

In his State of the City address back in February, Bloomberg proposed making off-street parking charging-ready, as well as installing curbside charging stations.

In pursuit of that goal, a few creative ideas have been proposed to meet the needs of electric car drivers in the Big Apple.

One proposal involved replacing phone booths with curbside charging stations, while a company called Hevo Power has designed a wireless resonance charger disguised as a manhole cover, which could be used by delivery vehicles.

While even NYC residents can find driving and parking in Manhattan intimidating, a slow influx of charging stations should help clear the air by making the city's streets more hospitable for electric cars.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.