First DC Fast Charge Station Goes Live on 'Electric Highway'
2011 has turned out to be a groundbreaking year for electric vehicles—literally. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) earlier this week chose a shopping center in Bellingham as the first location to break ground on the state’s segment of the West Coast Electric Highway, part of a 444-kilometer stretch of road along Interstate 5 between Washington’s borders with Oregon and Canada.
Bellingham will host the Electric Highway’s first direct-current (DC) electric vehicle fast-charging station, designed by AeroVironment Inc. to provide a 30-minute recharge for all-electric vehicles. (AeroVironment has deployed fast-charging stations in other locations nationwide, including Hawaii, as have competitors such as ECOtality Inc.) The Bellingham charging station will also include a pedestal with a 220-volt alternate-current (AC) outlet that can recharge one plug-in vehicle at a time at an intermediate rate of about two to eight hours, depending on the size of the battery. (Currently, some U.S. homes have 220-volt AC outlets installed to power air conditioners and clothes dryers. Most outlets supply 120-volt AC, which can charge e-cars at the slowest “trickle” rate.)
AeroVironment’s Electric Highway work with the WSDOT is part of the larger West Coast Green Highway, a three-state initiative to promote the use of cleaner fuels along nearly 2,173 kilometers of I-5 from British Columbia to Baja, California in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Energy is also adding fast-charging stations along I-5 through its EV Project, a nationwide initiative managed by ECOtality.
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