Charge 'er Up

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    DETROIT - JANUARY 12: A CT&T electric vehicle charging station is displayed during the press preview for the world automotive media North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center January 12, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opens to the public January 16th. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images)

    A new charging station for electric vehicles will be unveiled at  the San Jose McEnery Convention Center Parking Center on Thursday by San Jose  Mayor Chuck Reed and Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb Technologies.

    Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the public viewed some of the  cars that will soon be plugging in to those new charging stations at a free  exposition at Plug-In 2010, also at the convention center.

    A Chevrolet Volt, 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid, Mitsubishi i MiEV,  Nissan LEAF, 2010 Prius Plug-In, the smart fortwo electric drive, and other  innovative plug-in technology were on hand.

    Charging stations are being installed in 5,000 public and private  locations across the U.S. as part of ChargePoint, a program sponsored by  Coulomb Technologies and funded by the Department of Energy and the Energy  Commission, Lowenthal said.

    Private purchasers of qualifying electric vehicles have the  opportunity to receive and install a charging station for their own garage  free of charge through a $2.4 California Energy grant initiative, according  to Anne Smith, a ChargePoint spokeswoman.

    Thursday's ceremony will include a demonstration of how the  charging station works.

    The station will be available for public use but the cost for  using it has yet to be determined, Reed said.

    About one-third of the city's current fleet of vehicles run on  alternative fuels.

    As the city rolls over its fleet it will replace existing  combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles, hybrids, and additional  alternative-fuel vehicles.

    The total average daily mileage usage of most city cars is well  within the scope of miles of a single charge of a battery-powered vehicle,  Reed said.

    ChargePoint is an infrastructure-driven initiative made possible  by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation  Electrification Initiative and administered by the Department of Energy.

    Automakers are increasing their production and design of electric  vehicles in the U.S. but this isn't the first time there has been an effort  to move the country toward electric vehicles.

    What makes this effort different, Lowenthal said, is that there is  more of a grassroots effort than there was 15 years ago when the electric  vehicle movement fell flat.

    Multiple factors are working in favor of electric vehicles,  including a desire to move away from foreign oil dependency, the steep cost  of gasoline coupled with a recession, and now the oil spill fiasco in the  Gulf of Mexico, Lowenthal said.

    Charging stations are being rolled out in nine regions across the  U.S. with some 2,000 expected to go to car buyers and 2,600 will be installed  by retail, city and county governments.

    "The transportation department has infused $37 million in to this  program designed to bring infrastructure in nine regions. The Bay Area is one  of them," Smith said.

    Lowenthal said the charging station industry is helping to put  Americans to work.

    "Every time we put in a charging station, three people go to work.  It takes two people to install it and one person to make it," he said.