NRG eVgo (ee-vee-go) has announced the opening of a public charging station at Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City, California. The new Freedom Station offers both level 2 and DC fast charging, and is the first of seven such sites that eVgo plans to open at Kimco Realty-owned retail centers (NYSE:KIM) in California this year.
Public charging stations are not a rare sight in California these days, but this particular station has a tale behind it, one that reaches back to the 2001 Enron debacle. As the result of a complex, decade-long legal battle, eVgo’s parent company, NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) made a deal with the state to invest $100 million to build an EV charging network, including 200 DC fast charging stations and the electrical infrastructure to support 10,000 future level 2 stations.
To competitor ECOtality, operator of the Blink Network (NASDAQ:ECTY), it smelled more like a sweetheart deal than a punishment, and the company filed a lawsuit in May 2012 seeking to kill the agreement. A California appeals judge threw out the lawsuit in October.
ECOtality also benefitted from government support for EVs – it received $115 million in grants from the DOE to help build the EV Project charging network. However, when cash flows from that project declined, the company had trouble mustering enough sales. In August, ECOtality suspended trading and mentioned a possible bankruptcy.
Oblivious to the winners and losers in the lively charging network wars, customers at Westlake Shopping Center are merrily charging their EVs.
“We’re thrilled to have our first NRG eVgo Freedom Station up and running at Westlake,” said Kimco VP David Jamieson. “Californians drive more than one-third of the electric vehicles in the country, so building a network of quick-charge stations at Kimco centers, which are easily accessible by commuters, is a valued amenity to our customers and retailers.”