Largest car charging network in the U.S. rolls out in Houston

Big Oil, meet Big Electric.

Houston’s title as the world’s Energy Capital will gain a bit more luster when the city becomes home to the nation’s largest network of electric vehicle chargers.

Power plant operator NRG Energy will unveil plans today to install 150 charging stations within 25 miles of downtown Houston and offer monthly plans for in-home chargers as a way to ease consumers into the idea of buying one of the many new electric vehicles scheduled for production in the next few years.

The privately funded network will include chargers at local Walgreens, BestBuy and other stores, as well as near offices, allowing owners of electric vehicles — EVs — to shop or work while their rides charge up.

But it’s expected 80 percent to 90 percent of EV charging will occur at home. That’s why NRG is offering three monthly plans that include installation of 240-volt home charging systems. A high-end $89-per-month plan will cover all the electricity costs for charging both at home and at the public stations.

“It will be a comprehensive network so that when you need a charge you can find a charger quickly and conveniently,” said Arun Banskota, president of NRG EV Services, which operates out of a former Hummer dealership on the Katy Freeway.

NRG will install the units starting in February with plans for most of them to be in by the summer. The company plans a similar rollout in Dallas in early 2011 and is talking to the utilities in San Antonio and Austin about networks in the future.

Austin and San Antonio have city-owned electric utilities, so some aspects of creating charging networks there would be different, Banskota said.

NRG’s charging business likely will be a money-loser for several years. Relatively few EVs are on Houston-area roads now, the next generation of highway-ready EVs are being built in relatively small batches and their high price tags will limit their market.

But the $10 million in up-front cost for NRG is modest compared to the hundreds of millions the company spends on power plants, said CEO David Crane.

“It is a bit of a Field of Dreams strategy,” Crane said, referring to the ‘If you build it they will come’ mantra from the 1989 Kevin Costner film. “It will be several years before the investment pays off.”

Widespread use of electric vehicles has been promised repeatedly in the past, most recently in the mid-1990s when General Motors rolled out the EV1 in California. But EV advocates believe the promise is real this time for two reasons: better batteries and higher gasoline prices.

Today’s battery technology can carry passenger cars at highway speeds for up to 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commute is about 40 miles round-trip — 42 miles for downtown Houston workers, according to a 2009 study done by Central Houston, a nonprofit corporation that promotes downtown.

That means the new generation of EVs coming out in the next year could handle the weekday travel needs of most Americans.

During the 1990s gasoline was under $1 a gallon, but today the national average is $2.82, and it hit $4 during a surge in 2008.

The public chargers likely won’t be used much for the first couple of years, Banskota said, as car companies are rolling out new EVs on a limited basis. Chevrolet has plans for just 10,000 of its gasoline-electric Volts in the first year, for example.

“But you’ve got to have those chargers out there and visible to help drivers get over the issue of ‘range anxiety,’” says Banskota. “You need that insurance policy to drive EV purchases.”

The range anxiety issue is familiar to Crane, who has owned an all-electric Tesla for almost a year-and-a-half. The luxury EV roadster has a range of 200 miles on a single charge. But for the first few months he didn’t feel comfortable driving the 40 miles to the Philadelphia airport he uses most often to travel from NRG headquarters in Princeton, N.J.

“But that unwillingness was really like not driving your regular car once it got below two-thirds of a tank,” Crane said.

EVs have lower operating costs than gasoline powered vehicles because they require less maintenance and the per mile fuel costs are much less — as little as one-quarter of the cost per mile by some calculations.

But even with the service plans NRG is rolling out, electric vehicles won’t beat the costs of conventional vehicles because of significantly higher purchase prices. The Volt is priced at about $41,000, or $33,500 after a federal tax credit. The comparably sized Chevy Cruz costs about $19,000.

Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy for the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit think tank with close ties to the energy industry, estimates it would take 31 years for a Volt to match the cost of a Cruz, based on $4 gasoline and 15,000 miles of driving per year.

Matt Mattila, manager of Project Get Ready, an electric vehicle initiative by the left-leaning think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, said the NRG initiative sounds different from most of the other efforts he’s seen in other cities.

“Some are experimenting with owning some infrastructure, but none, as far as I know, at this level of scale and service,” he said.

A recent ranking of cities on their “readiness” for electric vehicles done for the Rocky Mountain Institute put Houston in the second tier as an “aggressive follower.” Mattila said the NRG plans could change that ranking.

Peter Bishop, a professor of futures studies at the University of Houston who has studied how technology develops, says generally the only way widespread adoption of EVs will occur is through incremental steps over time.

“Short of a huge government mandate, it will require lots of baby steps by the private sector,” Bishop said. “Taking baby steps is what the private sector is good at.”

tom.fowler@chron.com

60 Comments

  1. pmshop

    There goes Houston’s power grid. Plug in all of these cars that are about to flood the market and see what happens to the grid.

    #1
  2. Signal2Noise

    Excellent to see NRG taking the necessary “baby steps” and I hope to see Houston move from “aggressive follower” to leader to, hopefully, early adopter.

    #2
  3. Richard Salazar

    I believe that early adopters of this technology will quickly see that an electric vehicle will follow the purchase trends of a computer rather than a regular vehicle. The technology that powers the engine in a regular vehicle has long come to a point where little is changed from year to year/ model to model; i.e. if you really wanted to you could own and operate a car from the 1930′s or 40′s and not have too hard of a time. On the other hand, have you seen anyone fire up a Commodore-64 (1982)lately? Computer technology advances at a faster pace than most will anticipate, leaving the larger questions in cost being: How often will I have to upgrade to a new model? Will all EV’s have a standardized plug to charge or will I need to know where my brand vehicle can charge (like current cell phones)? What will it cost me to repair my EV after a collision? Because of what I assume will be an increase in cost, will my insurance go up? Will its resale value fall exponentially as current day computers do? etc. etc. Everyone should be excited about electric vehicles, but I think we should all ask the questions before jumping in the deep end of the pool.

    #3
  4. Charging stations, right! On average it takes nearly 5 hours to charge a vehicle that is depleted. How many people are going to stand aroiund for 5 hours. Even if they only charged 1/5 of a charge in theory it would still take an hour based on if the vehicle on full charge went 100 mile on 1/5 it would only go 20 or less.

    #4
  5. Gabacho

    And this electricity is produced from what?

    Coal !

    Liberalism is a mental disorder!

    Global warming is a scam !

    #5
  6. Brian

    Richard, your point doesn’t make sense. People purchase computers all the time while others use the same computer for 10 years. If something works for you, you keep using it. Also, why should society continue using a technology that is little changed from year to year (current cars)… when we can support something that can take us to the next level of performance?

    #6
  7. Dave

    They say “at local Walgreens, BestBuy and other stores, as well as near offices, allowing owners of electric vehicles — EVs — to shop or work while their rides charge up.” If I know my wife it take her average 2-4 to shop. So who standing around and wait?

    #7
  8. wjones

    Gabacho,I’ve wondered about the trade-offs myself, wondering if the development of electric cars has more than mere psychological value. It is like those new ‘green’ products made from corn which require more farming of corn which is, in its own way, hard on the environment. It is a trade-off.

    saved, does it really take 5 hours to fully charge? Yikes! I figured they had come up with some kind of rapid-charging technology, sort of like the difference between charging some of my electric gizmos using my computer vs a wall charger. Wall charger is much faster.

    Eh, I don’t plan to go electric, but I do enjoy watching creativity at work. Maybe with all the experimentation with electric vehicles, something new will be discovered which benefits people in an unexpected way. Many advances we take for granted today were discovered in the pursuit of something else.

    #8
  9. Miles

    These make sense primarily at home and work, where the car will sit for several hours at a time. However, every little bit will help to maintain range. Don’t assume that the battery is dead when the charging begins. It would be like adding another gallon while you shop for your Snuggie.

    #9
  10. Michael

    We got people here don’t know where electricity come from. Beside coal…ignorant soul.There wind, water, solar,nuclear,bio….etc. Global warming? I don’t think I will live long enough to see it. LOL

    #10
  11. phil

    you leftists have been brainwashed by algore and the hollywood half wits. man made global warming is a hoax. do you really think by driving an electric car you can change the temp. of the earth? the chinese, indians and russians are laughing at you. did you know they have no pollution controls in their countries? while they continue to grow and prosper by building the infastructure to support their demand for energy, we are sitting here shrinking because we have allowed these moonbat eco-nuts to infiltrate our government. oil, coal and nuclear means thousands of badly needed jobs for americans. we haven’t built a refinery or nuke plant in thirty years. drill here, drill now, reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

    #11
  12. lil ol me

    The types of chargers being proposed do NOT take 5 hours. They are “fast chargers” and while my in-out trips to Walgreens are hardly sufficient to bother with even fast-charging the car, they can pump a surprising amount of charge in a relatively short period of time. More useful would be chargers at the office where a longer period is available. These would be ‘slower’ chargers, less expensive and similar to those planned for the home locations. Those home chargers can take 5 hours and are intended for overnight, low demand use.

    It isn’t for me yet, but it has to start somewhere. And they should be allowed a comfortable profit to do so.

    #12
  13. ntangle

    GM says that it’ll take four hrs to fully charge the Volt with its optional 220 VAC charger.

    #13
  14. TheRedBaron

    With electricity going through the roof and especially with the huge jump in cost during our long long summers, these cars will bankrupt people! This is about as stupid as the progressives can get. Do they really think this will be cheaper? With crap and tax going to the vote here really soon and the extensive and ruinous taxes and fees attached to that, just what on earth are these cars supposed to do but keep people from going anywhere?

    #14
  15. justbob

    if you have to pay $90 a month, is it worth it. most people that drive an electric car don’t usually put that many miles on it.
    90 bucks would buy you 35-40 gallons of gas. at 20-25 miles per, your looking at 700-1,000 miles.
    so you pay more to buy an efficient car and then it costs you more to operate it.
    doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me since coal and natural gas is used to produce the electricity.

    #15
  16. Tom Fowler

    Saved/Wjones:
    The DC charging stations take about a half-hour to charge, the 240-volt 3.5-4 hours. But most of the charging will still take place at home, where cars usually sit for 12 hours a day.
    PMShop:
    Yes, if thousands of EVs suddenly plugged in on a hot August afternoon between 4 and 6, it would be a lot of added stress on the grid. But it’s more likely people will do most of their charging off-peak.
    Gabacho:
    We had a story scheduled about the emissions issue but I think the print edition ran out of space, so watch for it online soon or in print tomorrow. In any case, we quote a source saying even if it was all coal power electricity emissions would still be about 25% less. In Texas coal provides about 37% of our power, according to ERCOT.

    #16
  17. Sharky

    Where did my post go?

    #17
  18. Trey

    I don’t think people take into consideration the the leaps we are going to have to make in our electric production in order to make electric cars economical. In order to do this we will just be transferring fossil fuels to a new burner. In the end, a BTU has a standard price across the board.

    #18
  19. David

    I consider it a major omission in the article that they did not bother to state how long it would take to charge at these public charging stations. It only helps with my “range fear” if these can charge a reasonable amount in a reasonable amount of time. Also, I would say it would be more important for these stations to be between here and Dallas, rather than here or in Dallas. If they could add at least 100 miles of range in a 15-20 minute charge that MIGHT start to be feasible for long haul trips.

    #19
  20. Andrew

    Folks,

    Their is a universal connector J1772 that is UL approved and will charge all EV models. SAE had the foresight unlike cell phones to develop a standard connector for all EV’s. Secondly, there is various levels of chargers. Their is the slow charge 110V which you have at home, 240V which is the charge you will see at parking garages, shopping centers, hotels, etc. and then the fast DC charge 480V which are designed to look like the gas pumps out their today. The point is you can charge at a slower rate at home with the Level 1 charge and then you can charge at work on a Level 2 charge (If your employer will provide the amenity)or you can go to a Level 3 fast charge to fill up to 80% capacity in 15-30 minutes.

    I cannot wait for the day when I never have to go back to a gas station and put in the dirty petroleum which emits vapors while I’m filling up. Electricity is still cleaner than refining oil.

    #20
  21. elFaro

    I believe we are witnessing a Tipping Point. According to the article, ” …NRG EV Services…operates out of a former Hummer dealership on the Katy Freeway.” What irony. Would I buy a mixed fuel or all electric car? Yes, as soon as I pay off the car I’m driving now!

    #21
  22. Chris C.

    First, the reason coal is a primary producer of power is because coal is cheap and the coal industry is powerful. That could easily be changed if people were willing, and from what I’ve seen, Gabacho, it’s only the liberals who are willing to change it. The only mental disorder I’m seeing here is willful ignorance.

    Second, people forget that it is far, far more cost effective to reduce pollution at a few very large point sources than hundreds of thousands of small, mobile sources. Once again, the coal lobby whines about being made to put pollution controls on their stacks. But the cost of not adding those pollution controls is already being paid. It’s just being paid in health and property damage costs by people who are downwind of the power plant, who haven’t the money to be heard by politicians, and who don’t benefit from the additional profits made by the power plant operating without the controls.

    #22
  23. MS

    You all really need to do some independent reading on this. Yes, there are quick-charging abilities. I believe its 20-30 mins at one of the charging stations versus the home 220 outlets. Now I think that will only give you about 70-80% capacity in that time, but that should be plenty to go around town.

    And yes, coal and traditional power does provide the charging. But you’re forgetting economies of scale, folks. You’re plugging into a grid that is designed to distribute power to a broad area as economically as possible. Your car’s gasoline usage also has to include the cost to refine and distribute it. Not to mention all the costs associated with the pump operations, etc.

    I’m not saying this is perfect now. But don’t stand around like apes scratching yourselves while people will the cajones to try and improve the world are at least making an effort. Each of these baby steps will refine the process and drive down total costs and environmental impact.

    People scoffed at the car and thought they would never give up the horse. Those people are still standing in manure.

    #23
  24. Marian

    Can you imagine what will happen when we get a hurricane headed this way? It was bad enough sitting in traffic for 18 hours to get to College Station but, you will be stranded on the freeway to “ride out the storm”. Yippee…not!!!!

    #24
  25. Richard Salazar

    Brian, I am with you on the next level comment. I agree whole-heartedly that this is the next step in the evolution of transportation. However, history as we know it for the automobile has seen the use as transportation with a handful of sub categories (racing, off-roading, etc.) that dictate subtle changes to the vehicle, but in essence the going-ons remain the same. Recent automobile history has seen the emergence of more electrics (entertainment systems, GPS, etc.) being the major changes. If I want to drive a 1976 Lincoln Mark IV the combustion engine still works and the fuel is still readily available, but I can’t seem to get my iPod to plug into the 8-track player so I’ll need to get a new player. Once the EV’s come into play, the entire vehicle changes to new technology. How long before my entire vehicle is the 8-track player and I have to get a new one. Your argument is, “Well if the 8-track player works, keep using it.” But guess what, they stopped selling 8-tracks. My point is that you don’t see old computer technology in use. If you did, everyone with a cell phone would be walking around with a backpack antenna for the thing. If I have to buy a new EV every couple of years to keep up with the technology and they are $40k a pop how realistic are we they will catch on?

    #25
  26. Jody

    will these electric batteries lose their ability to store energy like other rechargeable batteries do? Constantly recharging partially full batteries affects the lives of those batteries.

    #26
  27. Hal

    Andrew:
    So, the SAE has put out a publication – J1772 for a standard EV plug. Unless this has been blessed and carries the weight of the appropriate federal safety authority it is just so much words. They also published J392 for standard specs for a charging system for a motorcycle way back in the 1970s. But with pressure by the then big four motorcycle manufacturers this never saw the light of day. Yes, J392 has been much modified and expanded over the years but to this day there is still not a standard against to measure a charging system for a motorcycle. So much for standards.

    #27
  28. Andrew

    Hal – The J1772 connector went through all the rigorous testing to become UL approved. Every auto manufacturers developing vehicles are adapting to this connector.

    #28
  29. loudogg

    Not only must the “carbon footprint” of the charging electricity be considered, but also that to manufacture and dispose of the battery. What ecological scenario is in wait with all these EV batteries that must be reconditioned and/or disposed of? With our current energy technologies, there is always an offsetting “carbon footprint”. EVs merely hide it behind the scenes since the consumer thinks no emissions are coming directly from the vehicle. The emissions are still there, just hidden at the front and tail end of the EVs life and in the process of producing charging electricity.

    #29
  30. mark

    Just what you need when your late for work or on your way to that high level meeting. Of course people have all the time in the world now that there are no jobs in Obama’s economy.

    #30
  31. Joe W

    What the envior people fail to realize is that the “green” electric cars use electricity to charge the batteries, The electricity needs to be reproduced, but they dont want nuclear or coal fer generators. So more petroleum generators, more pollution.

    #31
  32. TransAmer99

    I can see this becoming a trainwreck very quickly. *Inclemant weather makes outdoor charging impractical. *Vandalism. *EV-2 owner drives up to the station, only to find EV-1 there first. So driver 2 disconnects from driver 1 to charge his or her buggy instead. *Unlike many shoppers, some of us don’t go in to spend hours inside the store. So the time required to ‘juice up’ is totally wasted. *EV’s cannot compete in the marketplace with gasoline or even diesel vehicles – not without huge subsidies and even then they carry a price premium.
    -
    Will take a new mindset – like remembering to decouple prior to driving off and breaking the cord. As one who worked gas stations in my youth, I can’t tell you how many times someone stupidly drove off with the nozzle still in the tank. It still happens.
    -
    At home – how many people have their garages so crammed with stuff that they couldn’t park a car in there if they wanted to? 240V to the outside? Don’t think so. I think the proponents are still in the pipe-dream stage. At least for the next 15-20 years at any rate.

    #32
  33. the goat

    We need multi sources of power to propel our vehicles in the future(or is the future now). What happens when we run out of gas? We need vehicles that will use gas, electric, hydrogen, natural gas or a hybrid of both. The point is if we keep tapping one resource it will be depeleted and drive up the cost to operate. The high cost of electric cars is due to new technology or R&D. When the Earth resources are all use up, where do we go? Mars.

    #33
  34. RK

    But wait that be difernt from what’s I is used to, since I am afeared of change, I reject the whole idear outright.

    #34
  35. Dr_Prunesquallor

    A few months ago, Scientic American ran an article comparing how different states would fare with increased powerplant pollution as they move to EVs. Texas came out pretty well, since about 60% of our power is produced relatively “cleanly” (natural gas, nuclear and wind).

    #35
  36. Dollar

    How will it tow my boat ?

    #36
  37. almostdallas

    Joe W – Natural gas is used to generate electricity, as well, and it’s clean-burning.

    #37
  38. Bob

    The comments on this board crack me up. Taking carbon footprint and global warming completely out of the argument, why wouldn’t people think this is a good idea simply to reduce our dependency on foreign oil? Americans spent $600 billion on foreign oil last year and a lot of that money went to countries that are not our friends. I can’t wait to buy one of these and not have to stop at the gas pump.

    #38
  39. This will go the way of the CNG and LNG fueling stations that Entex placed around town a decade or so ago, in a year or two when the government subsidy runs out and they can no longer actually pay for themselves, Reliant will stop maintaining them, most will stop working, the rest will be turned off, and then when the landlord starts complaining about the eyesore they’ve become, they’ll quietly be removed without fanfare.

    It’s just another way to squander taxpayer’s money in the guise of “doing good for the environment”.

    #39
  40. Dollar

    Bob, that $600 billion number is someewhat misleading, in that only a small amount of our imports come from countries hostile to the US .. or from OPEC.

    Most of our imports come from Canada, then Mexico, then South America and I’m not sure how that breaks down between Venezuela and Brazil. Of that bunch, Hugo Chavez is the only bad guy.

    Last I checked, we only get 12% from the ME and that comes from the Saudis.

    Now, that said, enemies to our country do have control of price of oil, and they could possibly choke down our economy by driving the price of oil upwards or Iran could cause major disruption by blockading the Straights of Hormuz. But other than Iran, we have other leverage points on those countries to keep them in line.

    I don’t know if trade with Canada and Mexico is bad news, much is made of it, but that’s where most of our oil import money goes.

    #40
  41. Dollar

    On this electric car thing ………… well, it sounds really KEWWLLL . and I’m sure all the Kewlist liberal minds think this is an answer. And it does no harm, might even be a good thing for commuters in city like Houston. But its only good for commuting to work and back.

    Because the only way will ever generate enough electricity for it to be our major transportation fuel, is with nuclear generation. Replacing fossil fuels for transportation is not nearly as easy as these promoters of electric cars want you to believe.

    We burn 18 million bbls of oil per day, with almost all of being a transportation fuel. Think about that, try to replace 18 million bbls of oil , per day.

    That’s gonna take a heapload of electric generation, and for sure, wind and solar will NEVER get there. We would be lucky, if wind and solar provided enough electricity for heating and cooling.

    #41
  42. Mark from Louisiana

    Hmmm…..GM has been saying for a year if you drive under 40 miles a day it will only cost you $1.20 for the electricity to recharge. I guess they didn’t figure on the power company charging $89.99 a month.

    If these charging stations have a cord, they will be cut every day by thugs looking for copper.

    #42
  43. ntangle

    It’s just another way to squander taxpayer’s money in the guise of “doing good for the environment”.
    ————————
    How much taxpayer money has been squandered keeping the sea lanes open for supertankers, building & stocking the SPR, & deposing uppity oil potentates under the guise of stopping al Qaida or instilling democracy?

    #43
  44. Sharky

    Why aren’t my normal posts posting?

    #44
  45. Dollar

    These electric cars will be great status symbols for the liberal intellectual snobs, they will be a MUST HAVE item , so they can look down their noses at the common man.

    And why use nat gas to generate electricity for electric cars, when we can use nat gas directly in combustion engines. Why create a middle man, unless there’s some political payoff for somebody involved , huh ??

    BTW, what’s lost here, is that domestic oil production has risen the past two years……… first time we’ve seen that in a long time. They’re finding more oil in the Bakken than anyone ever dreamed was there, along with new fields in North Dakota and Colorado, and it could extend into Canada.

    That coupled with deep water GOM and a switch by the trucking industry to nat gas ……… and we be sittin pretty.

    To the disdain of every oil company hatin liberal environmentalist in America.

    #45
  46. Sharky

    1. This is NOT “Obama’s economy.” This is the central banking cartel’s economy. The cartel supercedes government in power and influence.

    2. There is nothing wrong AT ALL with NRG’s plan. Those who chose to buy EVs will enjoy the service.

    3. If you want to tow a boat, use a sufficiently powered ICE vehicle. No one is forcing anyone to buy an EV. You are also welcome to do your accounting on an adding machine, type your letters on a typewriter and play your George Strait on LPs.

    4. The “dependence on foreign oil” argument should be argued with heavy emphasis on the DEPENDENCE part. I don’t know about other people, but I would love to forgo the filling stations and electric utility and generate my own power via rooftop PV. Anyone care to knuckle drag about how lib-ral using the sun is?

    5. This is NOT….I repeat NOT a “comm ie bean sprout eatin’ lib-ral” issue, though it does tend to separate those of the NASA persuasion from those of the cattle tipping persuasion pretty quickly. Believe it or not, there are PLENTY of conservatives who are gung-ho for alternative energies and smarter infrastructure.

    6. Education in the days of the internet is relatively cheap. All it takes is the will and a little bit of research to get the skinny on the technology.

    #46
  47. Dollar

    Hah, the guy I was telling you about, just showed up.

    Ya see, ya better get an electric car, he’s tellin you ……. and if you don’t think that’s the answer ……….. then you just not educated. You don’t spend your day reading as much BS on the net , as he does.

    #47
  48. I have no problem with the baby steps, but I do with any tax payer funding or government mandates. If these things are to make it they need to do so on their own and without filling the pockets of the manufacturers who seek government money while the possibility of never seeing fruition is possible.

    #48
  49. Jolie

    More information on the EV ecosystem and chargers can be found at http://www.evsolutions.com.

    #49
  50. TXSFRED

    We had a story scheduled about the emissions issue but I think the print edition ran out of space, so watch for it online soon or in print tomorrow. In any case, we quote a source saying even if it was all coal power electricity emissions would still be about 25% less. In Texas coal provides about 37% of our power, according to ERCOT.
    .++++
    According to some statisticians, the Rio Grande is an average of one foot deep …yet people continue to drown in it, Tom. Explain.

    #50
  51. Sharky

    Dollar, it would be one thing if you guys got on here and had legitimate questions or contributions, but you don’t. And even when you do, its usually mixed with some sort of snark about “liberals”, debunked points or pseudo-concerns like how you will tow your boat. As a matter of fact, when I was growing up, conservation and efficiency were natural components of conservative ideology, but then so was self-sufficiency. I am not sure exactly when that changed, but apparently it has. And again, no one is telling you to buy an EV. And no one is saying that “that” is the answer either.

    #51
  52. ottowheat

    Does anybody know? Did ARD (American Rental Direct) provide any equipment for this, like portable generators, chillers or air-conditioning equipment? I see them popping up all over on these larger jobs and we have a project for this spring and they gave us great numbers, just looking for first hand experiences with them?”

    #52
  53. JLC

    The biggest thing preventing the advancement of technology is always resistance to change. Those who wish to remain in the past, please do. No one is forcing anyone to adapt to change, but like it or not is coming.
    I for one would love to move to having my own solar panels some day to generate my own electicity. They have come down in price significantly and indicators point that this trend will continue for some time. I simply do not understand why not more people jump on this or even adhere to this idea more. Why is it that people are so fixated to maintaining the dependance on oil? Think of it, even if you do not buy into the idea of generating your own electricity, the more people that do the more likely that electric and oil companies will have to keep prices down, simple supply and demand.
    BTW Gabacho, electricity is not only produced by coal. Simply there are many sources of energy. In the past alsmost all the energy sources in the US came from coal, but now the move is towards green or cleaner sources of energy.

    #53
  54. Jackalope

    “Today’s battery technology can carry passenger cars at highway speeds for up to 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commute is about 40 miles round-trip — 42 miles for downtown Houston workers, according to a 2009 study done by Central Houston, a nonprofit corporation that promotes downtown.”
    -
    Who in the world can drive “highway speeds” during rush hour? Those batteries are gonna wear out starting and stopping for an hour each way. And does that include using the AC or heater while driving? And I don’t spend $90/month on gas for my commute (more like 1/2 that), so not only is the car 3X more expensive to buy, it’s also 2x more expensive to operate! It’s no wonder it’ll take 31 years to recoup the cost of a Volt vs. Cruze.

    #54
  55. Dollar

    Sharky, the biggest piece of crap in these comments came from you, when you said this was not a political issue, that going electric is somehow apolitical.

    Who are you trying to kid ?

    #55
  56. Myanmar Shave

    Green? All of those hi-tech batteries are made by slaves in smoke-spewing factories in China. All this does is move the pollution to a different place.

    #56
  57. Sharky

    Dollar, I didn’t say that it wasn’t a political issue. I would even go far as to say the free market should be left to hash this out, except that we don’t have a free market in this country, so in the meantime if oil is going to be subsidized by federal reserve paper, then why not electricity as well?

    Myanmar Shave, once those elements are mined, the materials can be recycled and reused much more cleanly here in the USA. Godless, nationless global conglomerates and their slave labor countries of preference are another issue entirely. I am just amazed at how many otherwise American Joe Patriots parrot their dogma. “Liberal”? You’ve got to be kidding me. I doubt that even Ayn Rand wouldn’t stand up for these behemoths.

    Besides, this article is about an NRG investment that they feel will eventually pay off. Its a shame that the Chevy Volt had to mentioned as opposed to the Ford Focus EV, Nissan Leaf, etc., which are true EVs. Neither of these cars are 4X the cost of a comparative ICE-powered vehicle.

    #57
  58. Mark from Louisiana

    Seems as though Nissan admits that fast chargers like these will hurt battery life.

    Nissan states for the average driver of the LEAF using a standard charger, you will see ‘end of life’ around year 10, leaving you with only about 80% of the battery’s capacity left, and at about 70% if you frequent the fast charging station.

    The problem with that (80% vs 70%) is the assumption that the driving habits/frequency of charge is identical…it is not.

    If you are a fast charge client, then that means one of two things; A) you drive a lot or B) you are lazy/forgetful and don’t plug in at home overnight (or you live in a tent and have no access to power) . You could argue apartment (tent) or inaccessibility to a plug…but Nissan isn’t willing to sell you at LEAF at this point without already having a place for a 220V charger.

    I’m going to focus on reason A-‘you drive a lot, you need a fast charger to complete your day.’ Here it is quite simply — you are not going to have 70% after 10 years, because you don’t live in a vacuum, or a lab…it is not apples vs apples here.

    Your typical Lithium-Ion cell in a automotive application gets about a 1,000 full cycles before it is classed as ‘end of life.’ This means that if you are Johnny Two-Charge, your end of life is coming twice as fast. You can expect your 70% after 5 years at best. If you live in a super hot climate, like Arizona, you could be seeing the end of your car’s battery in under three years if you don’t shelter it from the elements.

    This means in the end your $33,000 LEAF is toast very quickly, and you have driven the value out of your. Now you are left with one of two choices; either you have to buy a new pack very early in the game, which means big lithium premiums are still in play ($10-000 to $15,000 to replace?), or you have to try to sell a high mileage, 3-5 year old electric car…which means big capital losses. Either way, it is going to cost you.

    For me, I will stick to overnight 220V charging until the day comes that the range is extended significantly further that I can live with getting less than 70% of the battery packs juice, or when new technologies improve the life cycle of the battery itself.

    http://nissan-leaf.net/2010/05/30/fast-charging-hurts-the-leafs-battery-range/

    #58
  59. Sharky

    Mark, assuming that one does indeed complete a discharge cycle each and every day (meaning ~ 100 miles per day) and that the battery only gets 1000 COMPLETE cycles, that would mean that you drive 36,500 miles per year and the battery would last ~ 3 years or ~ 109,500 miles. This is not the driver that these vehicles are being marketed to. I could see this as an issue for short range hotshot delivery services, but not the typical urban semi-suburban driver that commutes far less than 100 miles per day…even with the fast chargers.

    #59
  60. Energy Moron

    JLC wrote:

    “I for one would love to move to having my own solar panels some day to generate my own electicity. They have come down in price significantly and indicators point that this trend will continue for some time. I simply do not understand why not more people jump on this or even adhere to this idea more.”

    Please do this… you will do infinitely more for the environment than buying an electric car (except in California, where there is no coal generation).

    Better yet… spend the money to do energy upgrades to your home. The average American home wastes 1/2 of its energy. And these improvements even pay out :).

    #60