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Electric Vehicle Owners Getting More Places To Charge Up

CHICAGO (STMW) - Chicagoans soon will be able to juice up their electric cars at charging stations at Willis Tower, five local tollway oases, O'Hare and Midway airports and at select I-GO, Zipcar, grocery store and shopping mall parking lots.

That futuristic scenario will become reality later this year, as electric cars reach dealerships and as San Diego, Calif.-based company 350Green installs 280 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the region.

The price per juice-up has yet to be determined, and will differ based on a charging station's power and whether it's a peak time for electric use. Drivers may choose a monthly subscription, expected to cost $50 to $60, that will include unlimited juice-ups during non-peak electric hours, said 350Green CEO Mariana Gerzanych.

The city's $1.9 million deal with 350Green is just the latest step in the rollout of electric-charging stations that started in June 2009, when Chicago-based company Carbon Day sold a plug-in station to the Chicago Park District for use at Northerly Island.

Carbon Day now has sold 60 charging stations to property owners throughout the Chicago area. Two of the charging stations are operating at the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, said Carbon Day Vice President Brian Levin.

Carbon Day intends to sell another 250 EV charging stations in the next year in the Chicago region, Levin said Friday. The stations are made by Coulomb Technologies of Campbell, Calif., and operate on the Chargepoint Network.

At a news conference Friday to announce the 350Green rollout, Gerzanych said 350Green is strategically locating the charging stations so that drivers can juice up while doing chores.

The 350Green regionwide rollout will provide 73 Level 3 charging stations that will juice up a car in 15 to 30 minutes, and 207 Level 2 chargers that take three to eight hours to fully charge a car.

The city will get 50 of the 73 Level 3 stations and 170 of the 207 Level 2 chargers.

A ComEd spokesman said some of the costs to upgrade the electric infrastructure to handle the charging stations will be borne by the site owner, while others will be borne by ComEd customers. Those costs will vary by site.

The rollout is funded by $1 million in federal stimulus money, plus $1 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. 350Green invested $6.9 million to cover the upfront costs.

Gerzanych said 350Green also will open its national customer-service center in Chicago, providing 35 part- and full-time jobs, and will hire another 15 engineers, managers, installers and electricians to maintain the chargers.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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