Monday, February 14, 2011

Ready, set, charge: Fast EV power stations to roll out soon

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Ready, set, charge: Fast EV power stations to roll out soon - Chica...

Ready, set, charge: Fast EV power stations to roll out soon Chicago awards contract to install 280 electric vehicle charging stations in city, suburbs by end of this year By Julie Wernau, Tribune reporter Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune By the end of this year, Chicagoans will not only be able to purchase and drive electric vehicles, but also charge those vehicles in the time it takes to finish a cup of coffee. The city of Chicago has awarded a $1.9 million contract to a California firm to install 280 electric vehicle charging stations in Chicago and surrounding suburbs by the end of 2011. The contract — paid for with equal state and federal dollars though a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — means the city has cleared a major hurdle on the road to widespread electric vehicle adoption. Electric and plug-in vehicle manufacturers have said they will roll out their vehicles first to cities with an extensive charging infrastructure. Until now, Chicago had been largely overlooked by the nation's auto companies. Only Ford Motor Co. has announced Chicago among its initial rollout cities for electric vehicles, with the introduction of the Ford Focus Electric near the end of 2011. The stations are important for widespread adoption because they eliminate what the industry terms "range anxiety," or a driver's fear of ending up stranded with nowhere to charge the vehicle. "We are very much focused and talking to a number of car manufacturers, telling them that Chicago is going to be EV ready," said Joshua Milberg, first deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Environment. "We are in Ford's first wave of electric vehicles. We're working with Nissan, we're talking with General Motors. We're talking with Mitsubishi." According to the contract, San Diego-based 350 Green LLC will install, own, operate and maintain 73 plazas where drivers will be able to plug in to either a quick-charging station, which is expected to be able to fully charge electric vehicles in under 30 minutes, or one of two 220-volt Level 2 charging stations, which charge vehicles in 3 to 8 hours. The contract calls for the stations — branded "CharJit Express Plazas" — to be installed at O'Hare and Midway airports, in grocery store parking lots, Illinois Tollway plazas and in downtown parking garages. 350 Green is responsible for the upfront costs of the $8.77 million project and will be reimbursed $1.9 million from grant funds. The remaining $6.86 million is the company's responsibility. The company did not answer questions about the extent to which funding is in place or who had invested in the project, and the contract did not provide those details....

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