Company plans to set up charging stations for electric cars in DFW

Electric cars are just around the corner, and an electric utility company is gearing up to make sure Dallas-Fort Worth area residents have juice when and where they need it.

NRG Energy, the New Jersey company that owns Reliant Energy of Houston and Green Mountain Energy, will announce plans today to start marketing car-charging services for Dallas-Fort Worth area customers. The company also plans to install upward of 70 car-charging stations in D-FW beginning this year.

With the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt trickling into the hands of buyers, and other electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles scheduled to hit the marketplace in the next couple of years, NRG aims to capture the revenue stream from charging car batteries.

The company launched its program in November in the Houston area and is setting up about 50 public charging stations there.

"We thought we needed to have many more charging locations around the [D-FW] area," said Arun Banskota, president of NRG's EV Services division.

Under the eVgo brand name, the company will offer three home vehicle charging plans. The lowest priced plan, $49 a month, includes installation and service of just the charging system.

For $79 a month, consumers will get the home-charging system and free use of NRG public charging stations.

An $89-a-month plan includes both, plus no additional charge for electricity used at home. Prices are fixed for three years.

The home chargers will report electricity used for battery recharging separate from other home electricity use.

"The initial reaction to our plan [in Houston] has been overwhelmingly positive," Banskota said. The company also wants to offer the vehicle-charging plans in Austin and San Antonio.

NRG is working with Walgreens and Best Buy to install charging stations in their parking lots.

The system is heavily targeted toward the Nissan Leaf, which is entirely dependent on battery power and can go only about 100 miles before needing a recharge. NRG's eVgo recharge stations have a direct current recharge system that can provide an 80 percent battery charge in about 30 minutes, Banskota said.

The Chevy Volt, which uses a gasoline engine to provide extended mileage, has a slower battery recharge time.

The NRG centers will also have "Level 2" chargers that can be used by Volt owners.

Bob Cox, 817-390-7723