Even before Americans are driving electric vehicles, retailers are lining up to charge them. It's becoming easier to envision charging your vehicle while you shop, now that Walgreen's will have 800 charging stations across the US. Other retailers have similar plans, including Best Buy, Cracker Barrel, and Lowe's.
It shows how quickly our transportation choices could shift to electric cars - if people had the incentive to buy them - that means high gas prices, strong rebates, and high fuel economy standards for automakers (stop whining, just do it).
Walgreens plans to install EV charging stations at 800 stores across the US by the end of this year (it already has 60 installed in Texas and Chicago). Drivers will be able to charge their batteries in as little as 10 minutes.
The NYC Metro area will get as many as 60 stations. Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC are other major markets.
"As more Americans embrace environmentally sustainable technologies, our convenient locations make us uniquely positioned to help address the concern around accessibility or ‘range confidence,'" says Walgreens President of Community Management and Operations, Mark Wagner. "According to the Department of Energy, Walgreens will make up as much as 40% of all public EV charging stations across the country, making it easy for EV drivers to look to our stores for a quick charge near major highways, metropolitan areas or right in their neighborhood."
Walgreens also plans to have 100 rooftop solar installations stores and distribution centers by year end. A $5.2 million loan from the Ohio Bipartisan Job Stimulus Program will help install solar at 52 stores in the state. An energy management system monitors electricity, water, heating and cooling and waste management at over 1100 stores, and they were the first drugstore chain to install a geothermal energy system.
As part of the Dept of Energy's EV Project, Best Buy is working with Ecotality (NASDAQ:ECTY) on a pilot project, installing car charging stations at 12 stores in Arizona, California and Washington by March 2012. IKEA is doing the same.
General Electric, Siemens and Schneider Electric are all making charger products and services. By September, Lowe's will sell GE's WattStation at 60 stores and at Lowes.com - it fully charges an electric car in 4-8 hours.
In all, about 1800 chargers have been installed in the US thanks to the Recovery Act (Stimulus Bill).
Massachusetts just announced its award of over 100 charging stations to 25 cities and towns that applied for them. The state is also siting them at Boston's Logan Airport garages, Logan Express parking lots and at MBTA commuter parking locations.
$280,000 in funding came from pollution control equipment violation fines from an Ohio-based power plant and through a public-private partnership with Coulomb Technologies, which received a Department of Energy Recovery Act grant.
Cheaper to Recharge?
It won't be free to use all these charging stations. It will cost $3-$4 for a full 90-minute charge at Walgreen's, for example, and prices will vary based on local electricity costs. Most people will pay less because they'll likely just need a quick jolt.
Is it cheaper to charge an EV or to put gas in a car?
Charging costs 50-90% less than fueling with gas, according to a study released by Northeast Group.
The study, "United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs," benchmarked and analyzed the first wave of EV-specific tariffs launched by electric utilities across the US. It analyzed EV tariffs of 10 utilities in six states.