According to two stories in the Chicago Tribune (click here and here), $8.9 million will be invested in the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project, which promises 280 charging stations in the city and surrounding region by the end of 2011. Here is how the project was described in the Tribune:
"San Diego-based 350Green LLC, the contractor that will install and manage the charging stations, said there will be 73 quick-charging stations and 207 Level 2 chargers. The 240-volt Level 2 type can add roughly 10 miles of range per hour to vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The upcoming 2012 Ford Focus Electric is capable of adding 20 miles of range per hour at Level 2 but will not be equipped with a quick-charge port. Currently, quick-charge capability is limited to the Leaf and i-MiEV. . . .
"[Suzanne] Malec-McKenna [Commissioner, City of Chicago, Department of Environment] said roughly 50 quick-chargers and 170 Level 2 stations will be in the city proper, and the distribution extends more than 40 miles from the city center, encompassing 23 suburbs and multiple counties. Though all locations aren't finalized, they will include retail shopping centers, O'Hare and Midway airports and parking lots, as well as tollway oases. A map at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show announcement showed installations on Interstates 80, 90, 94 and 294."
The $8.9 million for this project comes from three sources--$6.9 million in private investments, $1 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and $1 million of Clean Cities Grant funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As the Tribune articles indicate, however, there may be some growing pains here. For example, the Ford Focus electric vehicles will not be able to plug into the quick-charging stations. And, "as soon as Chicago's fast-charging stations are installed, they may be obsolete."
My opinion is that it is about time that investments are being made in these charging stations. If we are going to realize the goal of getting away from gasoline-powered vehicles, in favor electric vehicles, then charging stations will need to be available. This is just the first step in making that goal a reality.
What do you think: Is the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago doing the right thing here? Please post your thoughts in the comments section.
Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.