ECOtality Completes 1,000 Residential EV Charging Installations

By · May 16, 2011

Blink EV chargers at BART

The vision of Blink Level 2 public electric chargers at a BART train station in the San Francisco Bay Area. At this point, the image is a rendering, but ECOtality is working to make it a reality.

ECOtality, the firm managing The EV Project, today announced that it has completed the installation of the first 1,000 Level 2 residential charging stations for electric cars. While some EV enthusiasts and observers had expected a faster build-out of charging infrastructure by this time, the milestone reveals new progress for the largest deployment of electric car charging infrastructure in U.S. history.

“We have focused initially on residential installations to ensure first adopters have the best possible user experience as the majority of charging most likely will take place at home during off peak hours,” said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. Read added that charging stations have been installed “well in advance of vehicle delivery.” (ECOtality’s level of service for the installation of my own Blink station was excellent—although it took place four days after I picked up my Nissan LEAF.)

ECOtality has a lot of additional residential installations yet to complete—the goal is to support 8,3000 EVs—but it will now also turn its attention to public and commercial charging. The company says these public installations “will increase significantly in the next few weeks as the EV Project seeks to install approximately 14,000 chargers by the end of 2011.” The company will begin conducting public charging launches next month. To date, ECOtality claims that “several” public chargers, all Level 2, have been installed.

The EV Project includes 18 major cities and metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia: Phoenix (AZ), Tucson (AZ), San Diego (CA), San Francisco (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Portland (OR), Eugene (OR), Salem (OR), Corvallis (OR), Seattle (WA), Nashville (TN), Knoxville (TN), Memphis (TN) and Chattanooga (TN), Washington D.C., Dallas (TX), Fort Worth (TX), and Houston (TX).

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant of $114.8 million, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and matched by another $115 million in private investment.

ECOtality confirmed to me that it will install approximately 20 DC fast chargers in my home turf, around the San Francisco Bay Area. The exact locations and timing for these public fast chargers—capable of granting as much as 80 or 90 miles worth of driving in about 20 to 30 minutes—has not yet been determined. Similarly, San Diego (60 DC chargers), Philadelphia (22) as well as Chicago and Houston will receive fast-charging equipment, subsidized through a combination of federal, state or local grants.

As challenging as the installation of residential Level 2 chargers has been so far this year, the timing for the installation of public DC fast chargers may prove more difficult—because the connection and communications standards for DC fast charging have not been finalized by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

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