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Public-Use Electric Vehicle Quick-Charge Station Opens in Portland, Ore.

First of its kind in nation, vehicles can charge in 20 to 30 minutes in a local parking garage.

Photo: Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy of Nissan.

Through a public-private partnership, Portland, Ore., is now home to the nation's first public-use electric vehicle charging station.

Unveiled in early August, the Takasago Rapid Charging Station sits in the parking garage of the Portland World Trade Center -- where electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries can be charged to 80 percent of full strength in only 20 to 30 minutes, according to a press release. Right now, there is no cost to use the quick-charge station, but because it's in a garage, vehicle owners must pay to park.

Aside from a publicity demonstration by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who charged up an all-electric Nissan Leaf last week, the station hasn't seen much use, but that should change once vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries hit the market, said Portland General Electric (PGE) Spokeswoman Elaina Medina. Such vehicles include the Nissan Leaf and Mistubishi i-MiEV, which are expected to be available later this year.

The collaborative project involves Oregon's largest utility Portland General Electric; the city of Portland; and network, communications and IT company NEC. NEC covered the station's building and shipping costs, while PGE paid for installation, Medina said. PGE's alliance partners, Portland State University and the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, will write a white paper on the station's acquisition, installation, certification and testing procedures to be released in September.

"By making charging convenient and available for public use, we are telling car manufacturers that Oregon is ready for the next generation of electric vehicles and we want our state to be a leader in introducing these cars to the rest of the country," Kulongoski said in the release.

There are nearly 40 electric vehicle charging stations in the Portland metropolitan area and Salem, Ore., and through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, more stations will soon be available in Oregon and other states. Through the grant-funded EV Project, nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities in six states, along with Washington, D.C., will be deployed.

By 2013, more than 2,000 charging stations will be installed in the Portland metro area and Oregon cities Salem, Eugene and Corvallis. Simultaneous EV Project installations will occur in major cities in Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, along with Washington, D.C. Eventually the Interstate 5 corridor between San Diego and Vancouver, British Columbia, will be electric vehicle capable, PGE anticipates.

"The ultimate goal is to make local and long-distance electric vehicle travel a reality with a fully developed, nationwide charging-station infrastructure," the PGE website said.


Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.