During the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago city officials announced the selection of 350Green, a developer of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, to design, build and operate a network of 280 EV charging stations throughout the Chicago area. The project is among the first and largest of its kind in the United States and will help the city address two of the most vexing challenges facing widespread adoption of EVs: range anxiety and access to a garage for overnight charging. 350Green plans to install and operate its stations in partnership with retail hosts across high-traffic urban shopping centers and other places near where Chicago-area EV drivers live and work.

“This project will encourage greater use of green transportation alternatives by making electric vehicle use more convenient and accessible in one of the most heavily traveled cities in the country,” Quinn said. “Through strategic investments like this, we are encouraging long-term economic growth, supporting innovation and creating the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

“When this project is completed, Chicago will have the most [direct current] quick-charging stations of any city in the country, with only the entire state of California surpassing our station numbers,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Much of the early focus around EV infrastructure has been on putting charging stations in the home garages of customers, which benefits only those who have a garage. Since many residents in Chicago do not have access to a garage, this effectively limits the number of people who can participate in the EV revolution.

“Our public charging stations with fast chargers will be widely and conveniently located near where residents live and work around Chicago,” said Mariana Gerzanych, 350Green’s founder and CEO. “Now, EV ownership becomes a possibility for anyone in Chicago, regardless of whether or not they have access to charging in a personal garage.”

The development of the EV industry in Chicago will have benefits for both the environment and the economy. For example, the reduction of gasoline use will lead to an estimated $525 million in positive economic impact on the region every year.

The company also expects that construction, operation and management of the 73 DC fast and 207 Level 2 charging stations, plus the opening of a nationwide customer support center, will create approximately 50 jobs in the greater Chicago area. The project is valued at $8.8 million, with public funding of up to $1.9 million. 350Green will fund the remaining $6.9 million.