Charging stations spring up around the country

While utilities conduct projects to learn more about electric vehicles (EV), businesses are already moving to fill the need for filling stations for cars that run on electricity.

Walgreen’s drugstore chain has submitted plans to the city of Colorado Springs to install four electric vehicle charging stations around the city. The proposed stations are part of the chain’s larger plan to install 800 facilities around the country, giving EV drivers a convenient place to recharge.

The first of the stations became available in December 2011, and the rest of the facilities should be completed early this year. Walgreen’s, which is partnering with charging network developer 350Green, has plans for about 25 such stations across Colorado. The cost of the power at the stations will depend on local electricity rates.

Santa Monica, Calif., is working with EV Connect to create the infrastructure to support EVs and make the city “plug-in friendly.”  EV Connect is installing publicly accessible charging stations at seven sites and numerous residences around the city.  The high-traffic locations chosen for the stations include Santa Monica Place Mall, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Civic Center and Santa Monica Airport.

A report from Global Energy Watch anticipates that the market for EV charging stations will grow significantly over the next eight to 10 years as production of the vehicles increases. Governments and military installations are adopting EVs to meet environmental and efficiency mandates, driving the deployment of more charging stations. That, in turn, encourages consumers to buy EVs as they become confident that the infrastructure exists to allow them to charge their cars when- and wherever they need.

While there are still challenges to EV adoption, charging stations clearly represent a potential economic development opportunity for private companies, municipalities and even utilities.