Charging into the Future

A new era has dawned on the streets and highways of the United States. With the arrival of two all-electric vehicles, Chevy’s Volt and Nissan’s Leaf, the long-awaited conversion from fossil-fueled cars has begun in earnest.

Industry analysts are predicting that as many as two million electric cars may be on the road in the U.S. by 2013, with almost a dozen automotive manufacturers expected to introduce plug-in models. However, a few naysayers have pointed out that the Volt comes with a sticker that may give customers a shock–a hefty price tag of nearly $40,000. Besides, the skeptics say, only a handful of locations in the country have installed charging stations.

News from the oil capital of the universe—none other than Houston, TX—should be enough to change the mind of anyone who doesn’t believe that our electric-car future has truly arrived.

Starting this month, 150 charging stations for electric cars are now available to motorists on the streets of Houston. The units were installed by power plant operator NRG Energy, which is also offering home charging units. The public stations have been located at stores including Walgreens, Best Buy and HEB. NRG is offering three monthly plans, topping off at $89 to cover the electricity costs for charging both at home and at the public stations.

Other companies are said to be offering home charging units for a flat price of $2,000. Once you buy the unit, it will cost about $1.50 to fully charge a vehicle, or roughly half the current cost of a gallon of gasoline.

OPEC was not available for comment.