Oregon's largest utilities plan to boost electric-car adoption

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Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

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It's clear that after several years of electric-car sales, electric utilities see a role to be played in providing the infrastructure to make them practical.

Two weeks ago, California utility PG&E received approval to install 7,500 public charging stations for plug-in vehicles.

Now, Oregon's two largest utility companies have filed plans to increase electrified transportation by installing new charging sites, boosting public education on the benefits of electric cars, and increasing electric-bus purchases.

DON'T MISS: CA approves PG&E plan for 7,500 electric-car charging stations

Portland General Electric, known as PGE (not California's PG&E), and Pacific Power jointly filed their plans on Tuesday.

PGE will build six public electric-car charging locations modeled on its longstanding "Electric Avenue" site in downtown Portland, each one having up to four dual-standard fast-charging stations plus a 240-Volt Level 2 connector.

It will also build and operate charging sites for electric buses to be run in Portland by TriMet, freeing capital for the transit agency to boost its purchase from four to five such buses.

Electric Avenue rededication, Portland, July 2015

Electric Avenue rededication, Portland, July 2015

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As for Pacific Power, it too will install public charging sites, and it plans to reduce certain electric rates to make electricity for DC fast-charging site operators far less expensive than it is today.

Last spring, Oregon passed a Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan that requires Pacific Power and PGE to eliminate coal from their generating mix by 2030, and generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2040.

Each utility plans pilot programs to "learn best-practices for fleet electrification, demand response, and vehicle to grid technology" (PGE) and "offer financial support to customers exploring innovative community-based vehicle electrification ideas" (Pacific Power).

ALSO READ: Oregon Debates EV Charging Stations: Cost Or Benefit For Utility Customers? (Feb 2016)

Importantly, both will also embark on consumer outreach and education efforts to make their customers and the public more aware of the benefits of electric cars.

“We are particularly excited about the consumer engagement aspects of these plans," said Jeff Allen, executive director of the advocacy group Drive Oregon.

"Most Oregonians simply have no idea that over 20 models of electric vehicles are readily available to buy today, that half a dozen of them can be leased for about $200 a month, or that they are incredibly fun to drive."

Electric Avenue - Portland, OR

Electric Avenue - Portland, OR

Enlarge Photo

"Electric companies have a key role to play," he added, "in helping their customers learn more about these energy-efficient new products.”

Oregon has long been at the forefront of electric cars, though the state's activities are sometimes overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the South, California.

Several years ago, it partnered with its neighbor to the north, Washington, to create the Electric Highway that allows electric-car drivers to travel along several of the most scenic roads and highways through and between both states, using fast-charging sites along the way.

CHECK OUT: Oregon's Pitch To Electric-Car Industry: Come Test New Stuff Here!

California still hasn't completed its section of the West Coast Electric Highway, though various entities within the state are now working toward that goal.

Oregon has also adopted California's stiffer emission rules, and its adjacency means that a few electric cars dedicated to California markets are also available in the state as well.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure, Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker is one of several members of the Drive Oregon council of advisers.]

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