Texas revs up eVgo chain of charging stations

With Best Buy and Walgreens as partners, the eVgo chain plans to have 60 charging stations for electric vehicles in place by Labor Day.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
3 min read
Walgreens will host eVgo stations at 18 of its Houston-area stores. eVgo

The eVgo chain of charging stations for electric vehicles will have its official coming-out party today at a Dallas event whose speakers include Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The first U.S. commercial chain of charging stations, eVgo (pronounced ee-vee-go), is set to announce that it will have a total of 60 electric-vehicle charging stations in place by Labor Day. It is owned by NRG EV Services, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, one of the largest electricity providers in Texas.

NRG EV Services and eVgo will also likely announce their specific pricing structure and plans for station customers. So far, eVgo has said it plans to offer a subscription service through which customers get unlimited access to its stations for a set monthly fee, and it is developing a smartphone app that will alert users to nearby charging stations.

The eVgo network already announced in November that it had snagged some leading Texas retailers as partners to provide space in their parking lots for charging stations.

The Walgreens pharmacy chain will host 18 of the rapid-charging stations at its Houston-area stores. Other partners include electronics retailer Best Buy, stores in the HEB supermarket chain, and the airport parking company Park N' Fly.

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The eVgo network will consist of two types of charging stations: 480-volt DC rapid chargers, which take about 30 minutes to recharge an electric vehicle, and 240-volt Level 2 chargers, which take about four hours to recharge a vehicle.

The eVgo "Freedom Stations" will be open 24 hours a day, and offer both types of chargers. Twenty-five of those will be open in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and 35 in the Houston area by Labor Day. A total of 70 will be in place in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area and 50 in the Houston area by 2012, according to NRG.

Electronics retailer Best Buy will soon offer eVgo charging at some of its Texas locations. eVgo

Eventually, eVgo also plans to roll out "convenience stations" that will be limited to 240-volt Level 2 chargers, and only open for service during the business hours of the retailer hosting the station.

It's not unusual for Perry to speak at such an event.

In addition to his support for the coal and petroleum industries, Perry has also been a very vocal proponent of green-energy projects, and embraced wind energy as an electricity source for Texas.

While Texas currently only gets a small percentage of its power from wind, it actually has the most wind power capacity of any U.S. state, according to the latest report from the American Wind Energy Association. Texas is also home to the largest wind complex in the U.S., a $1 billion project that includes 627 wind turbines across 100,000 acres over four Texas counties. It has a capacity of 781.5 megawatts.

The state is also no stranger to experimental transportation projects. Texas is currently the country's test subject for a series of telematics transportation technologies being rolled out by IBM in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The projects consists of a GPS-enabled communication network similar to Wi-Fi that allows vehicle-to-vehicle communication.