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Austin Energy gets $500,000 to lead alternative vehicle efforts

From the December 7, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published December 7, 2012

Austin Energy has received an additional $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue to lead plug-in electric vehicle adoption efforts in Central Texas and also to coordinate with natural gas vehicle initiatives.

The Department of Energy announced the award as Austin Energy released a nearly 500-page readiness plan that provides a blueprint with templates and tools for partners to use to promote plug-in vehicle adoption. The plan is available at The Texas River Cities (TRC) plan is one of the most comprehensive plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure plans in the United States, Austin Energy said.

"This plan represents thought leadership from utilities, universities, industry, government and community groups," said Karl Popham, manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies at Austin Energy. "This additional federal award recognizes the community benefit and quality of the plan by giving us the resources to deliver."

The Energy Department originally awarded $500,000 to the municipal electric utility in Austin in 2011 to guide the Texas River Cities initiative. Texas River Cities represents some 50 partners in a 10-county region, including the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas. Most of the region is served by consumer-owned utilities, including Austin Energy, CPS Energy in San Antonio, New Braunfels Utilities, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and the city-owned utilities of Georgetown and San Marcos, Texas.

There currently are more than 250 utility-operated and publicly accessible charging stations for electric vehicles in the region, in addition to home charging stations and privately owned stations at workplaces and retail outlets. Austin Energy’s Plug-In EVerywhere Network with 148 charging stations currently represents the largest concentration of charging stations in the region.

A goal of the coalition and the readiness plan is to have similar equipment, membership and fees throughout the region to help build consumer confidence in a region-wide system. For example, Austin Energy said, the municipal utility's six-month subscription card for unlimited charging could be honored at any participating charging station in the 10-county area, eliminating the need for multiple cards and memberships for someone traveling within that area.

Another goal of the coalition is to promote installation of charging stations at multifamily housing properties and also at work place locations.

Although the plan’s focus is on Central Texas, the plan is available to communities throughout the nation that are interested in supporting electricity as a real choice for transportation fuel, the utility said.

"The Austin community recognizes the utility, environmental and energy security benefits of plug-in electric vehicles," said Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis. The Texas River Cities PEV plan "is an important part of a larger strategy in Austin’s clean energy, energy efficiency and transportation electrification leadership," he said.

More information about Austin Energy’s transportation electrification programs is posted at


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