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Car sharing firm aims to build 18 solar EV stations

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One of I-Go's Toyota Plug-in Prius cars gets plugged in. [Photo Credit: I-Go Facebook Page]

Solar-charged car sharing could soon be coming to Illinois – and other U.S. locations.

By year’s end, Evanston may be home to two I-Go solar-canopy car rental stations, where any person with the inclination and know-how would be able to rent one of four solar-charged electric cars.

Representatives for I-Go, a Chicago-based nonprofit car sharing company, recently pitched the solar-canopy plan to Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee.

I-Go’s interest in Evanston is part of a plan to build 18 solar-canopy car rental stations for 36 electric cars in the Chicago area by the end of the year.

I-Go, like other car sharing programs, allows members to reserve cars at unmanned rental stations that are often single, sign-marked parking spaces located in the lots of frequented stores and other high-traffic destinations. Members pick up and drop off a vehicle at its singular home location, unlock the car with their membership cards and the vehicle tracks the length of the journey, charging the customer’s linked-up credit card accordingly.

There are some skeptics who say, ‘Well, electric cars. Yeah that’s great, but the power is coming from coal-fired power plants. You’re just switching one source of pollution for another.' Not so with what we’re doing.
--Jonathan Goldman, I-Go EV Project Manager

According to Jonathan Goldman, I-Go electric vehicle project manager, if the Evanston project is approved and built, the company will lay claim to the largest electric vehicle fleet in Illinois and the highest use of solar power energy for electric vehicle charging in the country.

Clean energy for car-sharing
“There are some skeptics who say, ‘Well, electric cars. Yeah that’s great, but the power is coming from coal-fired power plants. You’re just switching one source of pollution for another’, ” says Goldman. “Not so with what we’re doing. It’s going to be completely clean straight down the line.”

The proposed solar canopy would take up four conventional parking spaces to ensure the installation is large enough to charge two cars.

It would be connected the electric grid, feeding power to utility ComEd while using a net metering system to measure the total amount of electricity produced and used at the station.

Each station will be capable of creating an average of 30 to 35 kWh per day. I-Go estimates that under sunny conditions the stations will be able to charge about a car and a half a day.

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