"Now, people interested in electric transportation in the Philadelphia region can join the EV Project and help us build a nationwide network of electric-vehicle-charging stations," said Don Karner, chief innovation officer of ECOtality, which is based in San Francisco. It also is recruiting commercial partners to host the charging stations.
ECOtality received $115 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants in 2009 and 2010, part of the Obama administration's push to stimulate green-energy projects. The grants finance about half the EV Project's cost.
ECOtality's federal funding has become the target of Mitt Romney's campaign, which has likened it to Obama's support of solar-manufacturer Solyndra before it went bankrupt.
The negative publicity has not helped ECOtality's stock price, which closed Wednesday in NASDAQ trading at 49 cents a share, down 92 percent since it went public last year at $6.40 a share.
Karner said the company was being unfairly tarnished during the "political silly season" and maintained that the "project is viable and vibrant."
The rollout of charging infrastructure is one of the obstacles holding back the EV market, along with the cost of the vehicles and their limited range.
There is no shortage of competitors to ECOtality that are building out networks: General Electric; Coulomb Technologies; Better Place; and NRG Energy of Princeton, which operates the eVgo Network. Philadelphia entrepreneur Norman Zarwin also is building out a local network under the U-Go brand name.
ECOtality calls its system the Blink Network, which is connected to the Internet and allows customers to remotely schedule charging via mobile devices. In areas where hourly electric rates are in effect - next year for Peco Co. customers - the charger can also determine the best times and rates available for charging.
Customers who get the free ECOtality residential-recharging stations will have the option to join the Blink Network and pay a fee to use the company's high-speed public charging stations, which are now limited in Philadelphia to two Center City parking garages and Temple University.
In other parts of the country, ECOtality has established partnerships with businesses such as Best Buy, Ikea, Macy's, Sears, and Wal-Mart to host its chargers.
For more information on the program, visit www.theEVproject.com or contact ECOtality's Blink Network at 1-888-998-2546.
Contact Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @Maykuth.