Finding a public place to charge that Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf you just bought is about to get easier.
ECOtality, a San Francisco company with a long history of charging electric machinery, has begun installing a network of about 200 electric vehicle charging stations in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The Level 2 charging stations, which will supply 220-volt power, should be up and running by the year's end, says David Aasheim, manager of Texas operations for ECOtality North America.
Seventeen of the ATM-like stations have been installed, including one in Deep Ellum in Dallas that was used Thursday for the public unveiling of the project.
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Aasheim said he expects to have firm agreements worked out soon for the first Tarrant County and Fort Worth locations. He said he's looking toward shopping malls and attractions such as ballparks and the Stockyards.
"Why not have your car being charged while you're at the stadium, while you're at the Stockyards?" Aasheim said.
The Blink charging system developed by ECOtality has a touch screen and magnetic card reader. Consumers will use the company's Blink subscription service card or a credit or debit card to charge their vehicles. No information was provided on the cost of charging at the stations.
The system will allow electric vehicle owners to find charging stations near their destinations and reserve a spot when they arrive.
"We want to do everything we can to encourage electric vehicle adoption," said Aasheim, who is driving a Volt around DFW to conduct business.
ECOtality began setting up charging stations in several major West Coast cities last year and is moving into DFW and Houston as local governments have worked out sites and permitting requirements.
The company received a $115 million Energy Department grant in 2009, which it matched, to launch charging station networks.
A public company (ticker: ECTY), ECOtality was preceded by eTec, a supplier of battery-powered industrial equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks and airport ground equipment.
It also played a role in providing charging stations for General Motors EV1 vehicles in California in the 1990s.
Another firm, NRG Energy, which owns Reliant Energy, has announced plans for its own electric vehicle charging stations.