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Chicago to Open Charging Stations This Year

The Chicago area is gearing up to have 280 electric vehicle charging stations by the end of this year.

The city has awarded a $1.9 million contract to San Diego-based 350 Green LLC to install the stations in Chicago and its suburbs, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The installations will be covered half by state and half by federal money, through a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This will give Chicago a distinct advantage, helping to persuade electric and plug-in vehicle manufacturers to roll out their vehicles in the Windy City first, the Tribune said.

So far only Ford has included Chicago among initial rollout locations for electric vehicles, announcing that the city would be among the first to get the Ford Focus Electric near the end of 2011.

350 Green will install, own and operate 73 charging locations, called CharJit Express Plazas. There, drivers can use either quick-charging or 220-volt Level 2 charging stations.

The plazas will be located at O’Hare and Midway airports, at grocery stores, on tollways and in parking garages.

The project will cost $8.77 million, which 350 Green will provide up-front. It will later be reimbrused $1.9 million from grant funds.

“Range anxiety” has been widely cited as a factor prohibiting greater uptake of electrics, with consumers and fleet operators fearful that cars will run out of power midway through a journey.

But a Pike Research study found that 83 percent of survey respondents drive 40 miles or less in a typical day, making range anxiety a non-issue for the majority of prospective plug-in drivers.

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2 thoughts on “Chicago to Open Charging Stations This Year

  1. This just looks like another giant waste of taxpayer’s dollars. Do the math, you need at least 300,000 vehicles recharging every year with an average profit of $4/recharge (which means 40kWh at 10 cents per kWh profit above utility rates) just to clear a typical 15% hurdle rate for such an investment. That works out to over 1,000 vehicles using these, and only these, chargers every business day starting on day one!

    This is not going to happen. Not even in five years! So the good people in Chicago had better get ready for their local politicians asking for yet another tax increase to pay for these poor “investments”.

  2. These stations are just the first ones. More and more will come online in future years. As they do, the installation price per station will decrease. And at the same time, there will be more and more electric vehicles recharging at the stations.

    Jack is being short-sighted when he concentrates his criticisms on the economics of the first such stations. I haven’t checked his math, but it’s irrelevant anyway.

    Any new endeavor inevitably costs more in the early stages. And as the new practice becomes more established and more widely adopted, prices always decrease. And Jack’s assertion that wider adoption won’t happen; will only come true if we refuse to take the required first steps.

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