EV charging network goes big in Texas

NRG Energy seeks to relieve any range anxiety deep in the hearts of Texan electric car owners. Their new eVgo network will charge vehicles in and in between Dallas and Houston—and charge them quick.

NRG Energy seeks to relieve any range anxiety deep in the hearts of Texan electric car owners.

They opened the first of 120 electric vehicle charging stations on Friday. The eVgo Network aims to encourage a market for electric cars through a convenient charging infrastructure for the 240 miles or so between Dallas and Houston.

The company, based out of New Jersey, will be putting 70 privately-funded "Freedom Stations" in and around Dallas/Fort Worth. Houston will get 50. Half of these will be ready to charge EVs by this summer. For 2012 NRG says it will add more stations to the Interstate-45 corridor, soothing range-anxious moments between the two cities.

In just 10 minutes, drivers could potentially extend their cars' range 30 miles with a 480-volt DC fast charger. Open all day everyday, the freedom stations, provided by AeroVironment, will also have 240-volt Level 2 chargers for those with an hour or so to kill. Drivers can even alert the Police from inside their cars (as well as activate a siren and strobe light) if need be—perhaps during those late-night fill ups.

David Crane, NRG President and CEO, said in a statement:

Inaugurating the first Freedom Station in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is a critical first step toward making electric vehicles the smart and convenient choice for Texans who want to reduce their cost of driving while contributing to cleaner air and America’s energy independence.

We’re taking a page from Southwest Airlines when they started out 40 years ago to link the major population centers in Texas. This first station is the start of an ecosystem that will eventually give Texas EV owners the freedom to drive with range confidence throughout the region.

Texan? Find out if there are plans for a station near you here. If not, the network is open to suggestion on where to put one. Otherwise NRG is working with Oncor, operator of Texas' largest electricity distribution and transmission system, to figure out where to place the stations. The first one opened outside a Walgreens in Dallas.

To join the eVgo Network, EV owners sign up for one of three charging plans, ranging from $49 to $89 a month. All three plans include home installations of either a 120-volt Level 1 charger (with charging rate of 6 miles each hour) or Level 2 charger (at right) filling the car up at about 24 miles each hour. According to eVgo, their typical installation saves homeowners up to $2,000 in up-front costs.

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