Illinois Boasts Nation’s Largest Fast Charge Station Network For Electric Vehicles
Electric Car Owners Can Now Juice Up At Tollway Oases
Above the din from hundreds of traditional gas powered vehicles roaring past the O’Hare Tollway Oasis Thursday afternoon, Governor Quinn announced Illinois will soon be the home to the nation’s largest network of fast charging stations for electric cars.
“We want Illinois to be the greenest state in America,” Governor Quinn said. “By installing the largest network of cutting edge fast-chargers, Illinois will continue to support green jobs and provide people with environmentally-friendly and affordable travel options.”
The O’Hare Oasis is just one of four oases where fast chargers have been installed. The other three locations includes the Des Plaines Oasis (along I-90), the Lake Forest Oasis and Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis.
Eventually, electric vehicle fast charger units will be available at all seven oases in the Illinois Tollway system.
The state has partnered up with EV charging station management company 350Green, the Illinois Tollway and the 7-11 locations at each of the four oases to allow owners of electric vehicles re-charge their batteries in under 30 minutes.
“With this announcement, the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have the
largest and most advanced fast-charging EV infrastructure in the U.S.,” said Mariana Gerzanych, co-founder and CEO of 350Green–the company contracted to oversee the $8.8 million project. “Whether you are at a mall, a drugstore or now on the open road, electric vehicle drivers can take comfort in knowing a charging station will be just around the corner.”
But these oasis charger locations are a small part of the Chicago-Area EV Infrastructure Project. Most chargers are located in dense residential neighborhoods with high traffic and while 73 of the total stations will be fast, level three chargers, the remaining locations at Walgreens, parking garages and larger shopping malls, are the slower level two chargers.
But in order to utilize the fast chargers, 350Green public relations spokesperson Nicole Fallat reminds EV owners drivers must purchase a payment card through the 350Green website. The cards cost $21 which covers three 15-minute sessions at the fast-charging stations–or $7 per 15 minute session.
The contract for the charging stations was signed in October, 2010 but announced in March, 2011 with the goal of installing 280 charging stations over the course of a year.
While Fallat admits the project is behind the original timeline but should have all 280 chargers installed by the end of April.
While the greater Chicagoland area can boast having a top notch network of charging stations, ownership of electric vehicles is still tiny in the region and charging stations will most likely be underutilized initially.
“It’s kind of a chicken or egg type proposition,” explains Fallat. “350Green anticipates it will take people time to transition to electric vehicles or become comfortable with the technology. 350Green is fully aware usage will be light in the first year or two.”