Electric Vehicles Gain Traction With Approval of Pilot Projects

E-Cars on Electric Solar Charging Station at Main Street Promenade

A growing consumer interest in using electric vehicles, which may mean more than 50,000 electric vehicles on our state roadways by 2020, is part of what’s driving Public Power Company on an innovative path to offer customers across the state more choice about electric vehicles.

The recent approval of three pilot projects by the Public Utility Commission marks another milestone in moving towards cleaner energy options set in motion by the landmark 2016 Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act.

The pilot projects are part of a series of larger efforts by Public Power Company to prepare the energy grid for the 21st century. Our plan will add over 800 megawatts of new wind generation, upgrade existing wind generation, and provide new transmission to support that generation. The $800 million plan will both significantly expand Public Power Company’s clean energy portfolio and provide a net savings to customers over its life by taking advantage of tax savings. The company is also in the middle of rolling out new smart meters across the state. These new meters offer significant benefits to customers like shorter outage response time, while also reducing overall costs to customers over their life.

“We are making the grid more efficient, cleaner, and more reliable,” said Maggie O’Neil, Public Power Company president and CEO. “We are bringing even more renewable resources online in a smarter, more resilient grid that will reduce emissions from our power supply while keeping costs low. And, we are helping clean the air in a new way by fostering a new age of transportation less dependent on fossil fuels.”

Transportation emissions are a key area of focus for the state Global Warming Commission which reported in its 2017 report to the legislature that the transportation sector was the highest contributor to Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, the pilot projects will:

Put customers behind the wheel.

By providing information and services and sponsoring ride-and-drive events where consumers can get first-hand experience with electric vehicles and chargers to make informed decisions about what is right for them.

Invest in Innovation.

Public Power Company will provide grant funding to help non-residential Public Power Company customers develop creative, community-driven electric transportation infrastructure projects. Public Power Company will grant $400,000 for projects that advance transportation electrification in areas such as workplace charging.

Power to the People.

Public Power Company will install, own, and operate a limited number of publicly accessible charging stations in its service area. Many rural communities have no public fast charging infrastructure making it difficult for electric vehicle owners to traverse the state. Under this pilot, the company may construct and own up to seven charging sites, with each site featuring dual-standard DC fast chargers, and at least one Level 2 charging port.

“Electric vehicles can be a great choice for many customers. They can be lower cost to own and operate, and better for the environment too,” said O’Neil. “We all want a cleaner energy future, and these pilot projects offer a way for customers to explore if these vehicles are right for them.”