Oregon’s EV Infrastructure is Growing

Electric Vehicles , EV charging Add comments


EV quick charge station in Sisters, OR - Credit: Julie Waters

Next time you stop off at Shari’s Cafe and Pie Restaurant in Keizer you may notice a new electric vehicle (EV) ‘quick charge station’ in the parking lot. This new installation at Shari’s completes Oregon’s portion of the West Coast Electric Highway. When finished, the West Coast Electric Highway will have quick chargers operational in 25-60 mile intervals along the entire 1,300 mile length of Interstate 5.

In Oregon, the West Coast Electric Highway has been a joint effort between the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ecotality’s EV Project. The EV Project installed publically available charging infrastructure from Portland to Eugene. ODOT secured federal funds to install stations from Ashland north. Additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) is allowing ODOT to expand the EV charging infrastructure beyond I-5 to include popular destinations like the Oregon Coast, the Gorge and Central Oregon. Information on the state’s growing EV charging infrastructure, including a map of charging station locations, is available on the ODOT website.

Quick chargers, while not appropriate for home charging, can fully charge an EV’s depleted battery pack in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. (For a description of the various charging levels and their uses check out the Oregon Smart Guide, Electric Vehicle Charging at Home).

EV charging stations, technically referred to as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), are electrical installations regulated by the building code. Building Codes Division (BCD) ensures that the stations are safely installed. Safety is especially important when it comes to quick chargers or “DC fast chargers,” which use 480 volts of direct current and are intended for public use. 

BCD has taken numerous actions to simplify code requirements and streamline permitting for installing EV charging infrastructure, including: 

• Establishing a single permit for installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE),
• Creating a Statewide Alternative Method (SAM) for calculating electrical service for facilities installing multiple charging stations, and
• Making it easier and cheaper to install residential charging stations by going through the division’s “Minor Label” program

Investing in EV infrastructure makes economic sense because the price for imported oil and gasoline keeps going up. The US Department of Energy (DOE), reports that the average household spent almost $3,000 on gasoline in 2012. On the other hand, Oregon is a state with some of the lowest electricity rates in the country and future prospects for generating renewable energy (wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and wave) are good. Installing a network of charging stations will help Oregon set the stage for a more energy independent future.

Oregon legislators got a taste of that future on February 6, Clean Cars and Clean Fuels Day at the Capitol. A recent report by the Northwest Economic Research Institute, Oregon’s Electric Vehicle Industry, provided legislators with a snap shot of the economic impact of the state’s emerging EV industry. The snapshot will serve as a baseline from which Drive Oregon can measure the future growth of this new industry. Even at this early stage, the study found that the EV industry is responsible for as many as 1,600 jobs and generating $12 million in state and local taxes.

If you’re interested in hard copies of the Oregon Smart Guide on Electric Vehicle Charging at Home, contact Gabrielle Schiffer, BCD’s Green Building Coordinator, at 503-373-7418 or at Gabrielle.M.Schiffer@state.or.us.

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