Infrastructure

Portland, Ore., Utility Commits to Regional EV Charger Project

A total of 36 electric vehicle charging stations are part of $2.6 million shift to provide infrastructure in an area city and state officials see as underserved when it comes to alternative fuel options.

by Andrew Theen, The Oregonian / December 4, 2018
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(TNS) — Portland General Electric pledged to build 36 electric vehicle charging stations next year, including six chargers in east Portland, which state and city officials say has long been underserved by alternative fuel infrastructure.

The utility announced Monday it would install six individual vehicle chargers at the Eastport Plaza Shopping Center off of Southeast 82nd Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, part of its overall $2.6 million station plan.

Portland General Electric and the city announced the east Portland development in a joint statement, which Mayor Ted Wheeler called an example of the entities’ commitment to climate change goals. Portland and Multnomah County have a stated a goal to shift all energy sources to 100 percent renewable sources by 2050.

“I am thrilled that PGE is installing this infrastructure in east Portland," Wheeler said in a statement. “The electric vehicle charging hub at Eastport Plaza will incorporate technology in communities where access has not been previously prioritized.”

The investment comes on the heels of similar announcements in Hillsboro and Milwaukie in recent months. PGE’s lone so-called Electric Avenue, the six-station setup with two types of connections to work with all electric vehicles, was built outside downtown Portland’s World Trade Center in 2015. According to a statement, that charging station has fueled more than 1.25 million vehicle miles since its inception and has helped drivers avoid burning 515 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

“This new Electric Avenue charging hub is part of our continuing effort to increase access to electricity as transportation fuel for our entire region,” Maria Pope, president and CEO of PGE said in a statement.

But utilities like PGE and Pacific Power were also pushed to move toward electrification. The Legislature in 2016 required public utilities develop plans to accelerate electric vehicle charging stations in the state.

The city helped select the Eastport shopping center as the best location, due to its proximity to Interstate 205 and U.S. 26, the abundance of apartments nearby and the dearth of charging stations there. No public money will go toward the site.

PGE said it hopes to have the Portland, Milwaukie and Hillsboro stations open sometime in early 2019, with the next three yet-to-be-determined sites to open later in the year.

Andrew Dick, Electric Vehicles Advisor for Oregon’s Department of Transportation, said privately funded stations like PGE’s planned expansion come at an important time. “The state has aggressive targets for electric value adoption and we need these stations to support it,” he said.

Gov. Kate Brown issued an order last year pushing for 50,000 electric vehicles on Oregon’s roads by 2020. The $5.3 billion statewide transportation bill passed by the Legislature in 2017 includes a $2,500 per vehicle rebate for electric cars over a six-year period, with $12 million set aside to woo potential electric vehicle buyers.

As of the end of June, Dick said Oregon had about 19,000 electric vehicles on the road.

Dick said east Portland and Milwaukie are underserved in terms of metro area sites, but he said the rest of the state still has fewer locations comparatively.

According to Department of Energy statistics, Oregon has 598 electric vehicle charging stations accessible to the public, the majority clustered in and around Portland. Washington state has 852 publicly-accessible charging stations.

©2018 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.