When discussions of electric vehicle charging infrastructures come up, the west coast is often the focus, since California is the obvious EV leader. But what about Texas?
While pickup trucks, longhorns and the ability to drive 85 miles per hour may come to mind first, there's been a lot going on in the state lately for installation of EV charging stations coordinated by electric utilities, government agencies and Clean Cities coalitions. One of these utilities, Austin Energy, just received an additional $500,000 in funding from the US Department of Energy for its Central Texas EV adoption efforts. (Networks like Evgo, pictured above, are also growing in the state.)
Austin Energy released a nearly 500-page, comprehensive readiness plan to promote plug-in vehicle adoption, which you can download. "This plan represents thought leadership from utilities, universities, industry, government, and community groups," said Karl Popham, Austin Energy manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies.
In 2011, Austin Energy was awarded $500,000 to guide the Texas River Cities initiative. This coalition represents about 50 partners in a 10-county region, including the Austin and San Antonio metro areas. Along with Austin Energy, other utilities have joined, including CPS Energy in San Antonio, New Braunfels Utilities, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and the city utilities of Georgetown and San Marcos. Austin Energy's Plug-In EVerywhere Network has 148 charging stations and makes up the largest concentration in the region.
The coalition's goal is to make EV ownership and charging an easier experience. It will streamline and unify the necessary charging equipment, membership and fees to help build consumer confidence. Austin Energy is offering a six-month subscription card for unlimited charging at any participating charging station on the 10-county region. More EVSE installations at multifamily dwellings and workplace locations is another objective.
The Texas River Cities initiative is part of what's informally called the Texas Triangle – the goal of which is to build the charging infrastructure on roads connecting the three major urban metro areas in the state – Dallas, Houston and San Antonio/Austin. Clean Cities coalitions work closely with city governments, universities and utilities to have the state play a leading role in adoption of EVs and building the charging infrastructure needed for it to happen. There aren't too many of these electric cars that can go over 85 mph, but there is a lot of interest in driving EVs for a number of Texans.