ECOtality & Houston: Aiming To Be EV-Friendly Before 2011

If you're sick of gas-guzzling vehicles, don't want to do any further harm to the environment or just want to stick it to BP and all the other oil barons, there will soon be a practical alternative in town. It was announced on Thursday that Houston is partnering with ECOtality to transform the Space City into an electric vehicle-friendly one.

As part of ECOtality's Micro-Climate Program, a blue print for how exactly to run an EV-ready city will be created and then everyone will cross their fingers and hope it works out. Houston is one of 16 cities worldwide that have joined the C40 Electric Vehicle Network, which is a group of cities that are committed to making their cities more EV-friendly.

According to Laura Spanjian, the sustainability director for Houston, the project and its affiliates are already working at "lightning speed" in order to have the city ready by the end of the year,  just in time for the January 2011 roll-out of the new fleet of EV's from Nissan and Chevy.

For a better understanding of ECOtality's role and its Micro-Climate program, we'll refer to the press release:

ECOtality's Micro-Climate (TM) Program will bring together the key regional stakeholders, establish comprehensive deployment guidelines, provide long range planning (10+ years) as well as create a short term blue print and action plan for the Houston region to become immediately EV ready.

Sounds just dandy to us.

ECOtality will also be responsible for installing public charging stations around the city -- in parking lots and "the places people shop, eat and play," Spanjian said. The entire project will be a prolonged work in progress.

Starting with costs. Spanjian was uncertain of what will be coming out of the pockets of taxpayers or paid for by ECOtality. Those numbers will be delivered at a later date by ECOtality, once further infrastructure details are determined, according to Spanjian.

As part of the project, Houston has official partnerships with ECOtality, Nissan and Reliant, which is hoping to prepare electricity packages for those who decide to buy an EV and have to have a charging station installed in their garage or carport.

As for the fleet of vehicles, when fully charged, the Chevy Volt gets nearly 40 miles off electric power, before switching to a combustion engine, which can run for another 300 miles. The Nissan Lease is expected to get 100 miles per charge.

ECOtality, despite sending out a press release, didn't return calls on all this.

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