Chicago scored a big win this February with the announcement of electric vehicle charging stations that should be installed around the city and its suburbs by the end of 2011. With the completion of this charging infrastructure, Chicagoans will also be able to purchase electric vehicles, as manufacturers have promised to bring products first to cities ready to support their product.
The contract, given to California company 350 Green LLC, is set to decrease "range anxiety" (the fear of winding up stranded with no way to power your vehicle) by building more than 70 plazas that feature both quick charging units (30 minutes or less!) and some that take as long as eight hours to complete. The city is looking at building these stations not only in major arenas such as the airport and in rest areas on the tollway, but also at grocery stores and in parking facilities. Two of the proposed plazas will be solar powered.
The utility company Exelon, which owns Chicago's ComEd
, plans to use a smart grid approach to prepare for the upcoming demand of electricity once the stations are active. This electrical network uses digital technology to enhance the existing system by routing power more efficiently and in response to issues that affect supply and demand.
ComEd plans to take advantage of the new infrastructure. Its PHEV fleet will be the first to test the system once it is up and running.
Chicago will be joining Portland
and Houston as major cities working to curb our dependence on petroleum and beef up the number of drivers using alternative fuels. This project is sponsored in part by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.