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Walgreens installs electric ‘fuel’ stations in second Texas market

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Friday helped launch the nation’s first privately funded and comprehensive electric vehicle charging network with an initial station at the Walgreens drug store at Belt Line Road and Montfort Drive in Dallas.

The drug store retailer is working with NRG Energy to install high-powered rapid charging eVgo Freedom Stations at 18 locations across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

According to NRG, it plans to install at least 30 charging stations at public parking facilities, other retailers and workplaces throughout the area by Labor Day. The charging stations will be conveniently located along major freeways, near retail districts and in multifamily communities. Walgreens is the largest retailer participating in this program.

“Every day, we serve our customers’ health and daily living needs, and now we are expanding those services to help customers who embrace environmental sustainability and electric vehicle use,” stated Walgreens director of energy and sustainability Menno Enters. “This is another way Walgreens is showing its commitment to helping the planet through innovation, design and efficiency.”

The charging stations will feature a high-speed direct current charger that can add 30 miles of range in as little as 10 minutes of charging time, along with a Level 2 charger that can add up to 25 miles of range per hour of charge. The stations are strategically located across eVgo host partner cities to provide comprehensive coverage throughout the region.

Walgreens partnered with NRG on 18 drug store charging stations in the Houston Market in November. Construction began this month at two locations. By the end of 2012, NRG plans to install a total of approximately 70 charging stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and another 50 in the Houston area. Additionally, NRG plans will help electrify the Interstate 45 corridor that connects the two cities by the end of next year.

"More Americans are choosing electric vehicles as a way to make a difference with respect to the environment and to our national security," stated NRG EV Services president Arun Banskota. "To make EV ownership more affordable, convenient and fun, we have partnered with retailers, such as Walgreens, to host charging locations at strategic locations in metropolitan areas. Together, we are working to provide EV owners with range confidence, knowing that they will never be more than a few miles from a convenient charging station."

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Despite possible government shutdown, AAFES will keep doors open

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS — The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is planning to continue operations even if the U.S. government shuts down, the military retailer announced Thursday.

On April 9, the current budget authorization will expire. At that point, the federal government will potentially institute a mandatory shutdown for “non-essential” personnel.

While this action impacts the government, the Exchange is largely unaffected, the operation noted. The Exchange is a nonappropriated fund instrumentality. This means the majority of its budget does not rely on tax dollars.

“While the federal government shuts down, business at the Exchange remains largely unchanged,” stated Col. Virgil Williams, chief of staff for the Exchange. “However, some transactions may be delayed, such as the purchase of firearms, which require background checks or other federal government actions,” he said. “The Exchange will do everything we have to do to continue to support the deployed troops.”

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NRF projects boost for Easter sales

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Retailers may be worried that the late Easter holiday could negatively impact sales, but a new survey conducted on behalf of the National Retail Federation noted that consumers intend to spend more this year than in 2010.

NRF’s "2011 Consumer Intentions and Actions" survey, conducted by BIGresearch from March 1 to 8, noted that the average consumer is expected to spend $131.04 for the holiday — up from last year’s $118.60. Among all of the retail categories, food and candy will account for most of a consumer’s budget, bringing in $2.1 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively. The average person also will spend slightly more on each than they did last year — $18.55 on candy, compared with $17.29 last year, and $40.05 on food, up from $37.45 last year.

Though the numbers are not quite above pre-recession levels, it still is a good sign of things to come, NRF noted, adding that the biggest spenders would be adults ages 25 to 34 years, as well as young adults (ages 18 to 24 years).

“Due to such a late holiday, Easter promotions will last all spring long,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Though lingering concerns over food and energy prices may keep shoppers from splurging, retailers are expecting consumers to stock up on apparel, home decor and, of course, food and candy, a good sign leading into the much busier and important months to come.”

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