April 18, 2012

Oregon Celebrates 200 Miles of Electric Highways

These [electric charging] stations will help create a corridor that, by the end of 2012, will enable drivers to travel from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the Oregon-California border.      
Rick Wallace, Coordinator, Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities

April 2012--Electric vehicle drivers in the Pacific Northwest can now feel free to travel the open road in Oregon. Stakeholders from the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition recently completed the installation of 10 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along more than 200 miles of Interstate 5. Each of the 10 locations offers DC fast charging and Level 2 charging, making the stations usable by all plug-in vehicles now on the market.

The new "electric highway" stretches from Ashland, near the state's southern border, to Halsey, just 85 miles south of Portland. The project complements the concurrent deployment of EV charging infrastructure from Portland to Eugene.

"Some of the areas along this route aren't very populated, and they may not have the electric-vehicle density Portland does," Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coordinator Rick Wallace said. "But these stations will help create a corridor that, by the end of 2012, will enable drivers to travel from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the Oregon-California border."

The project was funded by a $915,000 Recovery Act award to the Oregon Department of Transportation through the Oregon Department of Energy, where Wallace serves as a senior policy analyst. Project leaders are in communication with their counterparts in Washington, British Columbia, and California to learn from one another's experiences and identify opportunities for collaboration on technical matters and outreach.

"Washington State is a key partner of ours. Our equipment is from the same manufacturer, we built the logo together, and it's all going to look uniform to the driver," Wallace said.

Critical to the project's success was finding appropriate sites and taking the time to identify enthusiastic property owners. Requirements for the sites included the ability to be open at least 17 hours per day, proximity to electrical power lines, sufficient parking space, and restroom availability. The site hosts represent a wide variety of property owners, including cities, state agencies, gas station owners, a lodging business, restaurants, and state parks.

"Getting all the host-site agreements in place has taken some time, partly because of the diversity of needs among the property owners," said Ashley Horvat, project manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "But it's been great working with all of them-they're very excited."

Photo of man at electric charging station.