Written by R.E. Lord

Ecotality Charging Stations

Behold the Sun Corridor: a projected megalopolis with some 10 million residents, car-choked freeways, and acre upon acre of single-family homes spread across the desert from Phoenix to Tucson to the U.S.-Mexico border, each with the air conditioning on full blast for five months out of the year. Planners and politicians have projected such a reality for decades, and it’s good bet that it will come true in the next 20 years of so.

The Phoenix metropolitan area, referred to locally as the Valley of the Sun, alone has about 5 million residents already, making it the 12th largest urban island in the country. Though in the past resembling Los Angeles in its reluctance to give up on the Post War American car culture and its back-turning response to a rather obviously unsustainable future (the city currently gets much of its water via a system of canals from the shrinking Colorado River, hundreds of miles to the west), Phoenix has of late made a few strides toward change. For example residents seem to have embraced the relatively new Metro Light Rail, and the city’s downtown scene has contributed to a nascent reformation in Southwestern urban living.

Now the Valley of the Sun has been named one of 16 metropolitan areas included in ECOtality’s $230 million electric vehicle infrastructure project.

Partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy, the San Francisco-based company plans to install about 15,000 electric vehicle charging stations in 2011, including 920 Blink Level 2 EV charging stations around the Valley. An additional 40 commercial Blink DC Fast Chargers, which can fully charge an electric vehicle in less than 30 minutes, will be installed in Phoenix and environs, ECOtality announced.

"These electric vehicle infrastructure blueprints are essential to preparing the greater Phoenix metropolitan area for EV deployment," said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality, in statement. "Arizona is part of a select group chosen to pioneer the installation and use of Blink charging stations in the United States. We are eager to begin laying the groundwork for EV infrastructure, and are pleased with the support and cooperation we have received from the Arizona government and EV Project partners within the region."

Blink chargers include “ intuitive charging features that support the Smart Grid, including an internal meter that offers energy usage data evaluation, AMI Interface and demand response and energy management,” according to ECOtality, allowing users to access their information on their charge status and costs using a Smartphone application.

“The rich EV infrastructure that we will create in Arizona will create a valuable test bed, yielding priceless data that will allow us to build a network that best meets the needs of EV drivers,” said Don Karner, President of ECOtality North America, in statement. “ECOtality hopes to promote the consumer adoption of EVs nationwide, and is excited to have the support of the state of Arizona to help make this integral part of The EV Project a success.”