Texas Electric Car Corridor Gets $500K Kickstart

U.S. Energy Department funds will be used to help build out I-35 charging corridor between Austin and San Anatonio.

Published: 28-Nov-2012

Austin Energy has received an additional $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue to lead plug-in electric vehicle adoption efforts in Central Texas and also to coordinate with natural gas vehicle initiatives.

The Department of Energy announced the award as Austin Energy released a nearly 500-page readiness plan that provides a comprehensive blueprint with templates and tools for partners to use to promote plug-in vehicle adoption. The plan is available at www.texasrivercities.com.

The Texas River Cities (TRC) plan is one of the most comprehensive plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure plans in the United States.

”This plan represents thought leadership from utilities, universities, industry, government, and community groups,” said Karl Popham, Austin Energy Manager of Electric Vehicles & Emerging Technologies. “This additional federal award recognizes the community benefit and quality of the plan by giving us the resources to deliver.”

The Department of Energy originally awarded $500,000 to Austin Energy in 2011 to guide the Texas River Cities initiative. Texas River Cities represents some 50 partners in a 10-county region including the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas. The majority of the region with almost 4 million in population is served by public power utilities including Austin Energy, CPS Energy in San Antonio, New Braunfels Utilities, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, and the city utilities of Georgetown and San Marcos.

There currently are more than 250 utility-operated and publicly accessible charging stations for electric vehicles in the region in addition to home charging stations and privately owned stations at workplaces and retail outlets. Austin Energy’s Plug-In EVerywhere Network with 148 charging stations currently represents the largest concentration of charging stations in the region.

A goal of the coalition and the readiness plan is to simplify the driver experience where equipment, membership and fees, for example, are similar throughout the region to help build consumer confidence in a region-wide system. Austin Energy’s six-month subscription card for unlimited charging, for example, could be honored at any participating charging station in the 10-county area, eliminating the need for multiple cards and memberships to travel within the area.

Another goal of the coalition is to promote installation of charging stations at multifamily housing properties and also at workplace locations where studies show is the second most likely place electric vehicle drivers would charge their vehicle besides at their home.

Although the plan’s focus is on Central Texas, it is useful and readily available to communities throughout the United States that are interested in supporting electricity as a real choice for transportation fuel.

“The Austin community recognizes the utility, environmental, and energy security benefits of plug-in electric vehicles. And the Texas River Cities PEV plan is an important part of a larger strategy in Austin’s clean energy, energy efficiency, and transportation electrification leadership,” said Larry Weis, Austin Energy General Manager.

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