Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A fast charging, cleaner solution

Electric cars are full of possibilities. From a pure environmental standpoint, they seem to make sense. Now, as interest and demand increases for electric vehicles, so does the need for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

EV charging station
at the Emeryville
Public Market in
Emeryville, Calif.
Recently, I came across a new EV charging station while driving into the parking lot of the Emeryville Public Market, a 14-acre mixed-use site that includes a popular international food court, shops, cafes and movie theaters. At first glance, what looked like a high-tech gas pump quickly grabbed my attention. Then, as I got closer to this EV charging station, it fueled my curiosity once I realized what it wasn't. I parked my fuel-injected, foreign-made automobile near the EV charging station and, immediately, began taking notes.

NRG eVgo (pronounced ee-vee-go) has created the nation's first privately funded, comprehensive EV ecosystem. The company's name is prominently displayed on its EV charging station pumps. According to the company's website, NRG eVgo provides "electric car charging solutions directly to electric car owners as well as businesses looking to serve the EV charging needs of their residents, tenants, employees or customers."

NRG eVgo wants to reframe the way in which Californians think about electric cars. Its goal is providing drivers with cleaner transportation solutions.

A Business Wire report last week noted that NRG eVgo, which is a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., has partnerships and agreements in place to build more than 200 fast-charging "Freedom Station" charging sites throughout California. (NRG eVgo also serves EV drivers and businesses in Texas and the greater Washington, D.C. area.)

Currently, NRG has 46 electric vehicle charging sites operational, under construction or currently being permitted in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. This includes the one in Emeryville, which borders Oakland and Berkeley, that's located across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco.

"We are making great progress building a comprehensive infrastructure that will make owning an electric vehicle even more convenient and fun," Terry O'Day, Vice President of NRG eVgo in California, told Business Wire. "As this network is built out, it will make buying an EV attractive to even more drivers across California."

Electric vehicle changing station /
A faster charging, cleaner solution
that improves air quality.
By the end of 2016, the eVgo Freedom Station network is expected to support California EV drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Los Angeles Basin, greater San Diego and the San Joaquin Valley (which includes the cities of Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto and Stockton) in central California. The company, which is investing over $100 million in California alone, is gaining the support of public, home and workplace solutions such as retail shopping centers and apartment complexes in expanding its marketplace of locations, which would add a lot of convenience for drivers with EVs.

With an expanded network, NRG eVgo envisions "improved air quality, less dependence on foreign oil, a lower total cost of ownership of vehicles and a better, cleaner California." On paper, it all adds up to a fast charging, cleaner solution to how we use energy and think about our environment. At least, seeing EV charging stations might help to foster how people think about, buy and use energy.

Photos by Michael Dickens, © 2014.

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