New Jersey-based company, NRG Energy, Inc. is planning a network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Houston. NRG’s website bills the network as “the nation’s first privately funded, comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem.” The EV charging network in Houston will consist of 50 to 150 charging stations, with 50 scheduled to be installed by the middle of next year. The charging stations will provide “three or four miles of range for each minute of charging times,” according to a New York Times article.
The New York Times reports that NRG “is talking with Nissan, Toyota and others about offering auto buyers a package that includes network access and a home charger.” Customers will be able to choose from three price plans that range from $49 to $89 per month. The home charging stations have a hefty upfront cost NRG: $1,500 to $2,000 each. Customers who choose the monthly option will sign a three-year subscription agreement, with the monthly charge added to their home electricity bill. One of the perks for customers is that they will not have to pay the up-front costs of having charging stations installed at their homes.
AeroVironment Inc. will make the charging stations. AeroVironment calls itself a “leading supplier of high-power test systems used by automakers and advanced battery manufacturers to develop the next generation of electric vehicles.”
A press release by AeroVironment lists the “innovations” that the EV charging station network will include:
- Home charging docks that will allow customers to charge either automatically or be pre-programmed by NRG or the driver so the car charges when “energy consumption and energy costs are lowest”
- Commercial charging station
- High power DC charging stations that will charge an EV in minutes “for busy drivers with very little time to spare”
NRG plans to invest about $10 million. NRG CEO David Crane says, “It is a bit of a Field of Dreams strategy… It will be several years before the investment pays off.”
The charging stations will provide mostly daytime charges to EVs, but the New York Times article reports that NRG “has its eye on a broader goal, building a bigger market for energy at night.” NRG owns a share in two nuclear reactors (44 percent according to the company’s website) 90 miles away from Houston, and “wants to add two new ones.” Although nuclear plants produce energy 24-hours a day, the article points out that nighttime electricity demand and load are low as are the prices. “Adding millions of electric vehicles, which would charge mostly at night, would create a market that a round-the-clock generator could serve,” said David Crane, “in various presentations.”
NRG’s website states that the company and the South Texas Nuclear Operating Company filed a Combined Construction and Operating License Application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to “build and operate two new units at the South Texas Project nuclear power station site.”