Delaware gets ready to plug in

Good thing Delaware is small! What other state could announce that it's going to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations, none of them more than 50 miles apart, and not face astronomical costs?

But Delaware is also home to alternative energy expert and electric car advocate Willett Kempton, a University of Delaware professor who will oversee the project.

Willett Kempton, professor in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, will oversee the electric vehicle charging station project. (Photo by Evan Krape, University of Delaware)

To get the kind of coverage the state wants -- making a station within the battery range of the least expensive cars on the market today -- will require only $80,000 and five or six stations, officials said in announcing the project.

The stations will be the super-charging type -- 16 kilowatts -- that can charge two to three times faster than most other stations. And here's another plus: Charges will be free of charge at least 2014.

“No longer will any Delawareans or visiting owners of electric vehicles have to worry about running out of electricity while traveling in the First State,” said Collin O'Mara, secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in a press release.

And no longer will an electric car-driver traveling from Wilmington to Bethany Beach have to worry about making it.

O'Mara also touted the air quality and economic development benefits the state will gain as a result of the project.

Kempton and other university researchers will determine the most effective locations for charging stations, and once the stations are operational, they will analyze usage.

“Delaware is setting up charging stations in a smart way, which is surprisingly more cost-effective than each electric car buyer getting a big battery,” Kempton said in the press release. “This project enables people to buy electric vehicles, use them for longer trips and not worry about range.”