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NRG Energy Launches Network Of Electric Car Chargers, In Houston

Today in Houston electric generation giant NRG Energy unveiled the first of its planned 150 electric vehicle charging stations. Touting this as a solution to the chicken-and-egg problem that could inhibit early adopters from buying electric cars, NRG will place these stations within 25 miles of downtown Houston, at retail locations like Walgreens, Best Buy and near office buildings. The network of stations will cost $10 million and be launched under the brand name Evgo (pronounced ee-vee-go).

The project is the brainchild of NRG Chief Executive David Crane, who drives a Tesla Roadster between his home and NRG headquarters in Princeton, N.J. Though the Tesla has a range of some 200 miles to a charge, Crane was initially reticent about taking his car even on round trips of less than 100 miles.

This “range anxiety” represents a real hurdle to electric car adoption. NRG hopes that spreading charging stations around town will alleviate this anxiety and encourage early adopters to take the plunge and buy a Tesla, or more likely Nissan’s upcoming Leaf or G.M.’s Volt.

Why place these at Walgreens and Best Buy rather than at existing gasoline stations? So you can shop while you charge. Even though these are touted as fast-charging stations, it would take hours to fully charge a battery.

Because the fast majority of charging will take place in garages and driveways at night, Evgo will install a 240-volt charging station at your home, and for a $89-a-month fee will let you charge your car as much as you want either at home or around town.
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