The City of Houston and its electric vehicle partners celebrated the launch of “Houston Drives Electric,” a new comprehensive city-wide electric vehicle program, on September 8th.
“Houston Drives Electric” includes new additions to the City’s electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid fleet, new infrastructure to support EV drivers, long-term future planning and resident education.
In accepting two Nissan electric vehicles for the City fleet, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said at the launch event, “Houston is the center of the energy world, yet we must always look to the future.” Mayor Parker noted the City’s intention to have 40 EVs and plug-in hybrids in its fleet by year end 2012.
Plug-In Texas congratulates the many partners of “Houston Drives Electric,” which include NRG EV Services (eVgo), ECOtality, the Houston Advanced Research Center and GRIDbot.
Importantly, the EV infrastructure is rapidly growing in Houston. The City fleet will have access to ECOtality, eVgo and GRIDbot charging devices. eVgo plans to install 50 public charging stations in Houston over the next year and ECOtality envisions installing over 200 commercial charging points over the coming months as part of The EV Project. The launch event took place at the site of a new eVgo Freedom Station at an H-E-B in the West University area.
Plug-In Texas commends the City and Mayor Parker for their leadership and recognizes the early and ongoing contributions of its members NRG’s eVgo and ECOtality for commitment in expanding EV infrastructure to support these clean vehicles in Houston.
Plug-In Texas’ Russ Keene praised the Houston program as “setting the standard for other Texas cities.”
Please read more coverage on the event:
ECOtality, Inc., member of Plug-In Texas, celebrated the launch of The EV Project in the Dallas metro area with the Blink commercial charging network on August 18. The kickoff event featured two Blink pedestal charging stations installed in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of downtown Dallas.
Speakers at the event included Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, City of Dallas Mayor Pro Tem; Greg Fioriti, ECOtality Senior Vice President On-road Operations; Dave Aasheim, ECOtality area manager; Greg Talley, Plug-In Texas Senior Advisor; Debbie Dennis, Oncor Vice President of Dallas Region Customer Operations; and Jonathan Hertzel, Madison Partners, LLP, owners of the installation site.
Plug-In Texas commends ECOtality for further advancing the public charging infrastructure in North Texas. As part of The EV Project, the largest rollout of EVs and EV charging infrastructure in history, ECOtality has plans to install over 200 charging stations in the Dallas metro area over the coming months.
The EV Project is supporting the newest generation of clean, electric transportation and will directly benefit the area by encouraging EV adoption with the largest deployment of open public charging stations with the Blink Network.
Electric vehicles are a positive progression for the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex - these exciting, clean vehicles will make vehicle ownership more affordable and make a significant contribution to emission reductions, transforming transportation for Texas.
The expansion of The EV Project in North Texas is a clear illustration of the growing support and enthusiasm for electric vehicles in Texas.
Read the official press release from ECOtality.
Plug-In Texas member NRG Energy launched eVgo, the nation's first privately funded comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem, in North Texas on April 8, 2011.
The eVgo North Texas launch included remarks by Governor Rick Perry; Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief; president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber Amb. James Oberwetter; Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO Wes Jurey; and NRG Energy President and CEO David Crane.
"Thanks to the innovative spirit and hard work of folks at NRG and their eVgo partners, we're closer to a day when electric cars will be a prominent feature on our roadways," Governor Rick Perry said. "…Texas has created a favorable business climate that allows companies like NRG to provide the cutting-edge technology and products that will keep our state moving forward."
eVgo launched its first Freedom Station, the first high-speed direct current (DC) charger in Texas, at a Walgreens store in north Dallas. It's the first of 70 stations to be available for use by Q1 of 2012 in North Texas. On hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting were many eVgo partners, including the retail electric provider partner TXU Energy, a Plug-In Texas member.
Plug-In Texas commends founding member NRG Energy for its leadership and commitment to electric vehicles and the launch of eVgo in North Texas.
“Electric vehicles make a lot of sense for North Texas – we commend NRG for further expanding the infrastructure to support this new class of vehicle. The eVgo network clearly helps advance the adoption of EVs in Texas as well as positions our state as a leader in the deployment of electric vehicles,” said PIT’s Russ Keene, in a media statement April 8.
Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, purchased a Chevrolet Volt, an exciting, new extended range electric vehicle for his personal use from Norman Frede Chevrolet in Houston on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.
Plug-In Texas commends Chairman Barry Smitherman for his commitment to electric vehicles.
Smitherman has long espoused the many benefits of Electric Vehicles as part of the Texas transportation system.
“As gasoline prices continue to rise and electric rates keep going down, the Texas electric grid is an increasingly attractive fit for plug-in vehicles,” said Chairman Smitherman. “My Volt will use electricity generated by Texas lignite, natural gas, nuclear fuel and wind power when I recharge overnight at my Austin-area home. I encourage all Texans to take a good look at plug-in vehicles.”
Plug-In Texas respects Chairman Smitherman’s long-demonstrated leadership for Electric Vehicles and for literally putting his money where his mouth is with his purchase of the Chevrolet Volt.
As the state’s chief electric regulator, Plug-In Texas appreciates Chairman Smitherman’s personal commitment to the new generation of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
On March 10, 2011, some lucky drivers experienced driving the newest electric vehicles on the road, getting a front seat view of what the future holds for Texas drivers. In celebration of its Electric Vehicle Day, Plug-In Texas steered more than 300 Texans through an EV exhibit including test drives of multiple electric vehicles at the Texas State Capitol.
The Plug-In Texas test drive and exhibit featured the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla Roadster, Toyota Prius PHV, and the eVgo charging station (a division of NRG Energy). Drivers enjoyed a brief, central Austin test drive near the Capitol grounds, experiencing the smooth, fun and emission free ride of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
The test drive and exhibit were created to educate state policymakers, Capitol staffers, and the general public on the benefits and viability of electric vehicles. Among the legislators viewing and driving the cars were Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo; Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio; Rep. Chuck Hopson, R- Jacksonville; Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin; Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin; and Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood.
It is a pleasure to announce that both Ford Motor Company and General Motors have joined the Plug-In Texas initiative for 2011.
We welcome these leading auto manufacturers and look forward to their policy contributions, technical expertise and corporate relationships.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2011 Ford announced its plans for electric vehicle rollout with the all-new Ford Focus Electric due out later in 2011.
The Chevrolet Volt began arriving at dealerships across the country in December 2010. During the January auto show in Detroit, the Volt was chosen by forty-nine auto journalists from the US and Canada as the "North American Car of the Year" for 2011.
Also at the North American International Auto Show in January, Plug-In Texas member Toyota unveiled the Prius family of vehicles. Toyota will expand the Prius to four different model types each with a special appeal to different buyers. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) is set to arrive to market in the first half of 2012.
On November 18, 2010 NRG President and CEO David Crane announced plans for a new privately funded, comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) charging station ecosystem in Houston, eVgo, which will provide both home and public charging for Houston area EV drivers for a flat monthly rate.
Crane announced that by year end 2011, eVgo will provide about 150 public charging stations to expand Houstonians EV infrastructure and as a convenience for the EV driving public in order to increase range confidence. NRG also has plans of eventually expanding the eVgo network to the “Texas triangle” cities of Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio.
Amongst speakers at the announcement was Houston Mayor Annise Parker who expressed Houston’s commitment to creating an EV ecosystem, “changing our transportation culture, saving Houstonians money and improving our environment while respecting Houstonian’s love of our cars.” Parker praised NRG, calling the company an “amazing corporate partner.”
At the special event, Crane introduced a number of partners in the eVgo network including Best Buy, HEB, Hertz and Walgreens. Plug-In Texas members Gulf States Toyota and TXU Energy were present at the announcement and are also partnering with eVgo.
The new eVgo network is innovative and exciting, and clearly helps advance the adoption of EVs in Texas as well as position our state as a leader in the industry.
On October 22, 2010 Plug-In Texas participated in the Alamo Area Council of Governments Clean Cities Coalition’s 2010 Electrification of Transportation Conference at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio. The AACCC event, in conjunction with Bexar County, the City of San Antonio and CPS Energy, discussed the need for new transportation choices and the related environmental benefits, cost of ownership benefits and economic development surrounding the new generation of plug-in hybrid and all electric vehicles. The conference included an Exhibit Hall with latest electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in electric transportation, as well as an opportunity to test drive the new electric Chevy Volt as part of the San Antonio stop of the Volt Unplugged Tour.
Russ Keene of Plug-In Texas moderated the conference’s “Texas Roundtable” which included a panel representing different regions across the state discussing current efforts, recent successes and future plans to prepare for the adoption of electric vehicles. The panel was comprised of Don Lewis, Fleet Manager at TxDOT; Laura Spanjian, Sustainability Director for the City of Houston; Jenny Danieau, Senior Transportation Planner for the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Larry Alford, Manager, Distributed Generation with the Strategic Planning & Business Development Department at Austin Energy; Bill Barker, Senior Management Analyst at the City of San Antonio; and Julia Jones, Research Manager of Technology Transfer for CPS Energy. Plug-In Texas thanks the panel members and commends them for the current efforts in their respective organizations and congratulates AACCC on a successful public education and policy-planning event.
Plug-In Texas attended the Electric Vehicles North Texas’ (EVNT) EV Showcase on September 23 and 24 at the State Fair of Texas. The EV Showcase brought together key players in the industry to prompt conversation about electric vehicles in North Texas, and the opportunities that come from putting the vehicles, buildings, the electrical grid and renewable energy together. It included a press conference by General Motors which introduced the Chevy Volt to attendees and an announcement by TXU Energy Chairman and CEO Jim Burke on TXU’s plans to install at least a dozen electric-vehicle charging stations on city property in Fort Worth and Dallas. A panel lunch included experts from the Beck Group, IBM, Oncor, GM, and EPRI along with PUCT Chairman Barry Smitherman.
Plug-In Texas thanks Jennifer Cohen and her colleagues from the North Texas Clean Air Coalition for their hard work on a successful event that will raise awareness of EVs to tens of thousands of fair goers. We commend NTCAC along with the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the North Texas Chapter of the United States Green Building Council for their leadership on this important public education event.
Plug-In Texas attended the Houston stop of the Ford “Charging Into the Future Tour” on September 14, 2010 which included a forum with CenterPoint Energy, Coulomb Technologies, Microsoft, Austin Energy and the University of Houston discussing the future of electrified vehicles in the city of Houston and the state of Texas. A partnership between Ford and CenterPoint was announced to develop consumer outreach and education programs on electric vehicles and develop strategies to minimize the emissions and distribution impacts of charging electric vehicles by leveraging and showcasing CenterPoint's smart meter and intelligent grid deployment coupled with Ford's smart charging solutions.
A prototype of the Ford Focus Electric, Plug-In Ford Escape Hybrid and the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year Ford Fusion Hybrid were on display and available for test drives. Above are photos of the all electric Focus which is planned to come to market late next year.
Plug-In Texas commends Ford and CenterPoint Energy on their new collaboration and thanks all the sponsors for raising awareness and demonstrating the viability of EVs in Texas.
On August 24, Plug-In Texas testified before the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee in support of electric vehicles. The Business and Commerce Committee, led by new Chairman John Carona, R-Dallas, met to review a number of electricity policy issues including demand management, smart meters, alternative sources, and “examining the benefits of EVs.”
Plug-In Texas compliments the Committee for its interest in understanding the benefits of electric vehicles. Click here to read a copy of the prepared testimony.
On July 1, 2010 Plug-In Texas attended the Austin Chamber luncheon featuring keynote speaker Chairman & then CEO of General Motors, Inc., Ed Whitacre, where Austin was formally announced as a launch city for the Chevy Volt. Plug-In Texas commends GM for bringing the new plug-in hybrid to Texas.
Plug-In Texas, a statewide coalition dedicated to promoting the use of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in Texas, hosted a Stakeholder Roundtable with its membership and interested North Texas area stakeholders on June 23 at the Irving headquarters of Plug-In Texas member TXU Energy. Joining the roundtable as special guests were State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, and TCEQ Commissioner Buddy Garcia.
Phil Wilson, vice president of Public Affairs for Luminant and early proponent of Plug-In Texas, welcomed the Roundtable attendees and explained the mission of the coalition before introducing special guest, Commissioner Buddy Garcia. Commissioner Garcia kicked off the roundtable discussion by addressing the positive environmental implications of electric vehicles, which was followed by a presentation of NRG Energy’s vision for an EV ecosystem in the Houston, by NRG’s vice president of EV Services Michael Harrigan.
Garcia noted that mobile sources account for 53 percent of NOx emissions statewide, 68 percent in Houston and 66 percent in DFW. “Texas is rapidly growing. We have a population of over 25 million now and that is expected to double by 2050. We have to start thinking about alternatives. Electric vehicles will have to be a part of that solution.”
“Electric vehicles can help with the ozone problems we face across the nation. …the state should seize the opportunity for electric vehicles here,” said Garcia. “I genuinely believe it will be a part of any solution in the future.”
NRG’s Michael Harrigan discussed the proposed EV Fueling Package NRG will offer to EV owners in the Houston area. By signing what will probably be a three-year contract with a fixed monthly fee (about 2/3 the monthly cost of gasoline in a conventional car), the consumer receives a home charging device and its installation, all of the electricity used to charge the vehicle and access to a network of public charging stations. “We are trying to bring the pieces together to provide EV drivers with a superior driving experience, and we believe it will make the adoption of EVs more palpable and faster,” said Harrigan.
Additionally, subject matter experts at the June 23 roundtable included Chairman Burt Solomons of the Texas House State Affairs Committee; Kate Robertson, energy efficiency specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund; Jenny Danieau, senior transportation planner for the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Rob Braziel, CEO of legislative affairs for the Texas Automobile Dealers Association; Brian Tulloh, vice president, Public Affairs for TXU Energy; Keiichi Kitahara, senior manager, Corporate Planning at Nissan North America; and Dr. Robert Helms, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and director, Institute for Intelligent Energy Systems, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Representative Solomons noted that many members of the Texas House are traditionally excited and generally supportive about technology advances for the environment and fuel efficiencies, and is optimistic for possible convenience incentives for EV owners being considered in state legislation in the future. Solomons cautioned that because of the state’s budgeting conditions, prospective EV owners might not realistically expect state financial assistance on top of federal tax credits.
All panelists agreed that the adoption of EVs are a win-win because they address many issues that our country and state deal with today: national energy security issues, nonattainment air quality issues, carbon increases, utilizing renewable energy, and providing economic development.
TXU Energy hosted the Roundtable at its headquarters and NRG Energy provided a converted plug-in hybrid Ford Escape and a Coulomb CT-1000 public charging station for display.
Attendees included elected officials from the Town of Addison and Kaufman County as well as city and chamber staff from McKinney, Irving, West Lake, Denton, Fort Worth, Houston and Dallas. Also in attendance were representatives from companies like Texas Instruments, North Park Shopping Center, Oncor Electric Delivery, American Airlines, UT Southwestern Medical Center, and ECOtality.
On January 20, 2010, Plug-In Texas founding member Environment Texas released a new research study Plug-in Cars: Powering America Toward a Cleaner Future. The study answers many questions about plug-in vehicles and lays out a strategy for how to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. It highlights data from existing research to show that electric vehicles can help to improve Americans’ standards of living.
Plug-In Texas participated in events announcing the release of the study at Zilker Park in Austin and at Houston City Hall. Plug-In Texas member Luminant was part of the same day Dallas event.
The study is available at http://www.environmenttexas.org/reports.
Plug-In Texas, a new statewide coalition dedicated to promoting the use of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in Texas, hosted a Stakeholder Roundtable with its membership and interested Houston area stakeholders on November 12 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Joining the roundtable as a special guest was Public Utility Commission of Texas Chairman Barry Smitherman.
Smitherman kicked off the roundtable discussion in Houston by addressing public policy implications of electric vehicles, followed by a presentation of the Environment Texas study Plug-In Cars: Powering America Toward a Cleaner Future.
Smitherman noted that electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles address many issues that our country and state are grappling with today: national energy security issues, nonattainment air quality issues, carbon increases, utilizing renewable energy, and providing economic development.
McCall Johnson, clean energy advocate for Environment Texas, presented the organization’s study findings, “Plug-in cars are emerging as an effective way to lower global warming emissions, reduce oil consumption and also reduce smog. The technology exists today but it will take a coherent strategy and considerate action to take full advantage of the potential that plug-ins offer us.” Environment Texas is a founding member of Plug-In Texas.
Additionally, subject matter experts at the Houston Roundtable included Phil Wilson, senior vice president for public affairs at Luminant; Andrew Jetton, director, retail strategy for Reliant Energy; James Tillman, assistant director of finance for the City of Houston; Rob Braziel, chief executive officer of legislative affairs for the Texas Automobile Dealers Association; Dr. Mladen Kezunovic, Eugene. E. Webb Professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University; Kate Robertson, an energy efficiency specialist with the Texas chapter of the Environmental Defense Fund; and Shalini Ramanathan, vice president, Development/ South Central U.S., Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Inc.
Many of the panelists acknowledged some of the obstacles that the electric vehicle industry will have to overcome and offered insight on what the industry can offer and what will need to be addressed.
James Tillman of the City of Houston, stated, “As a public institution what we want to do is support the technology, be early adopters and test the technology, and be a good proving ground for it.”
Andrew Jetton from Reliant Energy commented on the role that REPs can play, “There is a lot that needs to get done on the infrastructure side to get this right. It’s going to be a difficult transition for customers to go from a gasoline vehicle to an electric vehicle. I think we can play a role working with auto makers and dealers in making that easy for them by putting together the right package of services that’s not just metering kilowatt hours. It’s really a whole package that could involve infrastructure and other services on their vehicle that gets them the experience that they are promised.”
“From a dealer’s perspective, in terms of selling a product, they are looking at a couple things just like consumers are looking at… Is it a cost that makes sense for the consumer? I think that is really the issue moving forward for consumers and dealers…what is important is that we focus on what can we do in the policy world to bring down that initial cost,” added Rob Braziel of TADA, a founding member of Plug-In Texas.
Texas A&M’s Dr. Mladen Kezunovic stressed the complexities surrounding the adoption of electric vehicles mentioning the different facets of the technology, the interrelation of the infrastructures, the stakeholders, the psychology elements, the policies and economics involved. He said, “There is a need to have a decent size demonstration site or sites of some type…to learn how all these interactions actually unfold.”
Shalini Ramanathan provided a perspective from the wind energy industry, “Here in Texas, with the CREZ process, we are so much further ahead. And what we are about to do is to bring world class wind to market… and if we can couple this with a really well thought-out and well developed electric car system in major metropolitan cities, I think we are going to maximize the value of CREZ…wind blows stronger at night in West Texas and that is when people are going to be likely charging their cars, so the complementarities are really beautiful.”
Kate Robertson of Environmental Defense Fund offered her insight, “Plug in electric hybrids are great for reducing global source emissions but it’s a chance for us to address a wider, more comprehensive set of policies…this is a good chance for us to look at how to use renewables, how to do the storage component …and really figuring out how to do this so we are having some economic benefits from this as well as the environmental benefits.” EDF is a founding member of Plug-In Texas.
Phil Wilson of Luminant, founding member of Plug-In Texas, said of the industry, “It’s a win, win. This truly is non-partisan, taking full advantage of our resources…taking Texas where it can go and why we should each be a part of Plug-In Texas.”
Reliant Energy was the event’s presenting sponsor, and the Association of Electric Companies of Texas provided additional underwriting support. CenterPoint Energy exhibited a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius converted plug-in electric vehicles for attendees to view. Watch for details on the next Plug-In Texas Roundtable to be held in the DFW area in January 2010.
View the Environment Texas study presentation: Plug-In Cars: Powering America Toward a Cleaner Future
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The heart of oil country may seem an odd place to plant the seeds for a green energy future, but the city of Houston and Reliant Energy started sowing on Tuesday….