HOUSTON -- The city of Houston on Sept. 8 launched “Houston Drives Electric,” a major electric vehicle deployment initiative involving widespread installation of EV stations and the acquisition of a city-owned EV/plug-in hybrid fleet. 

Through the EV Project, ECOtality will install approximately 200 Blink charging stations in the greater Houston area over the next several months. In addition, NRG Energy’s eVgo Network will install 25 stations in Houston this year and an additional 25 next year.

The city and ECOtality will also be installing 28 public charging stations at city libraries and parks with funding through grants from the State Energy Conservation Office and EPA Climate Showcase Communities. GRIDbot will handle the installation of 28 municipal charging stations in the parking garage underneath Tranquility Park for city fleet vehicles, funded by grant funds from the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

An EV station from GRIDbot.

An EV station from GRIDbot.

City officials and program partners highlighted “Houston Drives Electric” goals during a ceremony at the site of a new EV station in an H-E-B supermarket parking lot on Buffalo Speedway. The event last week also celebrated the city’s growing EV infrastructure as well as new additions to the city’s electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid fleet. 

“The City of Houston is proud of its vision and ongoing leadership in electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid technology,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This innovative technology is part of our alternative transportation future, helping the City save money by reducing gasoline costs while also reducing in-city tailpipe emissions.”

Houston recently purchased two Nissan Leafs. These are the first all-electric vehicles in the city’s fleet. They were on display at the event. Another 23 electric vehicles will be added to the city fleet by year’s end, bringing the 2011 total to 40 electric and plug-in hybrids.

Efforts by the city, ECOtality and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) have led to the development of major planning documents to guide the city’s deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure. These documents include the “Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Deployment Guidelines,” “Long-Range Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Plan” and “Micro-Climate Plan.”

The city has also developed a new website to educate residents about electric vehicles. City officials estimate that by 2020, more than 73,000 plug-in electric vehicles will travel the city’s streets.