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Behind Schedule, NRG Promises First Electric Car Quick-Charger in California “Quite Soon”

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) said in a press release on Nov. 12, 2012, that 200 new Quick Chargers for electric cars “will be available in early 2013” in California. Those public chargers were promised as part of a $100 million settlement with NRG—one of the country’s largest power generation and retail electricity businesses—for overcharging consumers during the 1999 California energy crisis. Nine months later, the first Quick Charger from the settlement has not yet been made available, with no definitive roadmap for when the charging stations will come online.

“We don’t have any stations announced that are public to be open for drivers today,” said Terry O’Day, director of California business development for NRG’s eVGo network. “It’s a little hard to put our finger on how many we could expect to be providing by when,” he said, in an interview with PluginCars.com. He promised an announcement “quite soon.”
Slow at First

“We are aware NRG to date has not completed any installations,” said Andy Kotch, a CPUC spokesperson, in an email to PluginCars.com. “But NRG remains obligated to complete the program over a four-year term, and we have sufficient information to confirm that NRG has been working diligently to find sites for their charging facilities.” Kotch said that the CPUC will continue to monitor NRG’s progress. The schedule “contemplates a more rapid pace of installations in the later years,” said Kotch.

The CPUC agreement—which was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November—requires that the 200 so-called “Freedom Stations” will be installed over a four-year period. According to O’Day, in the first year (2013), the agreement specifies that 40 stations will be made available, followed by 60 per year in the following two years, and 40 more in the final year. Freedom Stations have a single DC Quick Charger, as well as a Level 2 240-volt chargers and a stub for a second Quick Charger. A Quick Charger is capable of providing a full charge to EVs in less than 30 minutes.

“It’s an aggressive target,” said O’Day. He was not willing to commit to meeting the 40-station target by the end of 2013, but believes that NRG will have more than 100 stations available to drivers before the end of 2014.

O’Day explained that the process of installing a Freedom Station entails a long list of activities, including assigning contractors, signing up property owners, designing electrical systems and obtaining permits. “We have a good handle on permitting, and a couple of them fully permitted, so we’re ready to make announcements this year about our first opening.”
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