Different groups may be arguing about who's going to provide electric-vehicle charging stations along California highways but, a couple states north, they seem to have that issue figured out.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and EV-charging-station maker AeroVironment have opened the first 10 electric-vehicle charging stations along Interstate 5 and U.S. Route 2 that will allow EV drivers steady access to charging stations for the 110-mile drive between Seattle and the Canadian border.

AeroVironment and the WSDOT, which will install two more stations in the area during the next few weeks, will give EV drivers free charging privileges "for a limited time." Eight of the stations are so-called fast-chargers. The U.S. Department of Energy provided $1.5 million in funding for the project, which is part of a broader effort to provide EV charging capabilities along the West Coast from Mexico to Canada.

Of course, much of that effort depends on California, where the state and charging-station makers are squabbling. NRG Energy in March won a settlement from the state which resulted in $102 million being earmarked for the build-out of at least 200 so-called Freedom Station EV chargers throughout the state. Smaller competitor Ecotality subsequently sued the state, saying that the agreement would hinder competition and would cost California taxpayers more than the deal was worth. NRG this week said the project will bring $185 million in economic activity and add 1,500 jobs.

AeroVironment, which is based in – wait for it – California, reached its agreement with Washington State last summer.
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West Coast Electric Highway Expands to Washington, Now Extends to Canadian Border

Ten new electric vehicle (EV) charging sites from AeroVironment added along Interstate 5 and U.S. Route 2
AeroVironment to provide free charging to EV owners for a limited time

BELLINGHAM, Wash., May 30, 2012 – The border-to-border vision of the West Coast Electric Highway moves closer to becoming a reality today with the opening of new EV charging sites, extending the highway to the Canadian border and opening it to electric vehicle (EV) drivers from both countries.

Today, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), along with electric charging station partner AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) opened ten new public charging stations-seven along Interstate 5 and three along U.S Route 2 in northern Washington – that provide EV drivers the ability to travel emission-free from Seattle to the Canadian border.

"Today moves us a giant step closer to the day when we can drive our electric cars from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California along Interstate 5, secure in the knowledge we can quickly recharge our vehicles along the way," said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. "And today is the beginning of a new era in Washington state. An era where we take a giant step toward protecting our environment from damage caused by vehicle emissions, one that will help free us from our dependence on foreign oil, and one that protects drivers from volatile gas prices."

Eight of the 10 new charging stations in Washington feature AeroVironment's state of the art "DC fast chargers," which deliver a full charge for a nearly-depleted EV battery in less than 30 minutes. All locations include AeroVironment Level 2 chargers, which provide EV drivers with convenient charging while they grab a bite to eat, run errands or visit with friends. The locations are strategically placed near desirable shopping and entertainment venues for drivers, which will benefit drivers and businesses alike. Two of the 10 locations – at rest areas near Blaine and Vancouver – offer only Level 2 chargers. There, electricity is provided free to drivers by Adopt a Charger and the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association.

"A 21st-century transportation system in Washington must provide options for drivers, especially as more people convert to electric vehicles," said Washington State Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. "Creating a sustainable transportation system protects our air from harmful emissions and conserves our resources."

The West Coast Electric Highway is a vision for a transportation corridor from the Canadian to Mexican borders, connecting California, Oregon and Washington along I-5 that fully supports electric vehicles. Inaugurated in Southern Oregon on March 16, 2012, the West Coast Electric Highway's expansion in Washington creates international opportunities, opening the gateway to Canada.

The AeroVironment charging stations are available at convenient locations in Blaine, Bellingham, Burlington, Tumwater, Centralia, Ridgefield and Vancouver along Interstate 5 and in Sultan, Skykomish and Leavenworth along U.S. Route 2. Two additional stations will be installed in the coming weeks.

"AeroVironment is a pioneer of the modern-day electric vehicle industry," said Kristen Helsel, vice president of business development for AeroVironment's Efficient Energy Systems business. "Partnering with visionaries like Washington State allows us to provide EV drivers with charging solutions wherever they are-and to travel greater distances in their electric vehicles. Together, we're growing the EV infrastructure to realize a clean transportation and energy independent future."

The U. S. Department of Energy provided seed funding of $1.5 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand the West Coast Electric Highway in Washington. The funding is administered by the Department of Commerce through the State Energy Program.

"Efficient transportation and the electrification of vehicles is a leading pillar of our State Energy Strategy," said Rogers Weed, director of Commerce, who drove his own plug-in electric vehicle to the opening events today. "The West Coast Electric Highway is an outstanding example of public-private collaboration between partners including WSDOT, AeroVironment, local governments and businesses, and EV drivers. Together our efforts are helping electric vehicle related businesses emerge and grow, providing long-term energy and economic benefits for Washington state."

Electric vehicle drivers will be able to access the charging stations by first enrolling in AeroVironment's Charging Network at evsolutions.com/avnetwork or by calling toll-free at 888-833-2148. Once enrolled, EV drivers will receive an AeroVironment Network key fob that will provide free access to all AeroVironment chargers along the West Coast Electric Highway for a limited time.

About Washington State Department of Transportation

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is the steward of a large and robust transportation system, and is responsible for ensuring that people and goods move safely and efficiently. In addition to building, maintaining, and operating the state highway system, WSDOT is responsible for the state ferry system, and works in partnership with others to maintain and improve local roads, railroads, airports, and multi-modal alternatives to driving.

About AeroVironment, Inc.

AeroVironment is a technology solutions provider that designs, develops, produces, operates and supports an advanced portfolio of electric transportation solutions and electric-powered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). AeroVironment's comprehensive EV charging solutions include EV home charging, public charging, fast charging, data collection, grid-integrated communications and complete installation, training and support services for consumers, automakers, utilities, government agencies and businesses. AeroVironment's industrial electric vehicle charging systems support thousands of electric materials handling vehicles in mission-critical supply chains for Fortune 500 enterprises. AeroVironment's power cycling and test systems provide EV developers and EV battery manufacturers with market-leading simulation and cycling capabilities. Agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense and allied military services use the company's electric-powered, hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems to provide situational awareness to tactical operating units through real-time, airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and communication. More information is available at www.avinc.com and www.evsolutions.com.

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made on the basis of current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors outside of our control, that may cause our business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to; the activities of competitors; failure of the markets in which we operate to grow; failure to expand into new markets; failure to develop new products or integrate new technology with current products; and general economic and business conditions in the United States and elsewhere in the world. For a further list and description of such risks and uncertainties, see the reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 1 Day Ago
      I was at the opening ceremonies for this. A hugely historic day. Drove the Leaf effortlessly 230 miles that day. I am talking on the I-5 70+ MPH, heater or with wreckless abandon!! A couple Leaf drivers from BC were down for the ceremonies. They said that BC Hydro is working on putting these fast chargers all the way up to Whistler so they are coming.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        "Drove the Leaf effortlessly 230 miles that day." How many stops, and how long was your total driving time?
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        I reiterante LTAW's question. It would be nice to hear some real world experience with fast-chargers such as how long charging took, many many miles you drove between fast-charging, any use of slow-charging, etc.
      Ryan
      • 1 Day Ago
      How is Vancouver doing with adding chargers at certain popular tourist places? Can you reserve these chargers days in the future so you know you will be able to get a charge on your way back?
      atc98092
      • 1 Day Ago
      These new chargers (if I read this right) are between Seattle and the US border. There were no additional units south of Seattle. Doesn't sound like it has helped much in the southern half of the state. Also, someone might mention to Mr. King that Highway 2 does not go to Canada. It starts in Everett (north of Seattle) and travels east. It does not cross the US border. Even number highways (and interstates) travel east/west and odd numbers are north/south.
      lne937s
      • 1 Day Ago
      A good start, but time to start accellerating the installs. As quick chargers are now being mass produced and more manufacturers are out ther, costs should start comming down. Hopefully Nissan will start installing quick chargers at their dealerships for public use as well, as than have done in Japan and are currently doing in Europe.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Day Ago
      Is it only me that sees a certain incongruity about spend hundreds of millions on public charging stations, while a highly qualified researcher, working at a highly respected University, struggles to raise a mere $ 6.8 million, to develop a battery technology that would make 80% of these public charging stations, redundant ?
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Yes. Only you. Just you! :D
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        If someone really has a good battery technology, they will have absolutely zero problem raising $6.8 million for development. Look how much EEStor has raised and they didn't have anything of substance. Build a REAL better mouse-trap and the world will beat a path to your door.
      EZEE
      • 1 Day Ago
      In Bthlo Florida, Jethro used some shine from his still to make it to bingo last night. And now you know.....the rest of the story.
      skierpage
      • 1 Day Ago
      @Danny King, What's with the the meaningless editorializing in "Eight of the stations are SO-CALLED fast-chargers"? From the press release these really are DC fast chargers (I presume 50 kW CHAdeMO), so write the correct meaningful term for them. #corrections It's 262 miles from Vancouver, WA to Ferndale, WA on I-5, so 8 DC fast charge stations could cover the entire interstate. According to http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/ , there are currently no DC fast chargers in Washington, but there 12 in Oregon (? can anyone confirm?) and apart from an 80-mile gap between Halsey and Portland you could drive I-5. And then CA has no DC fast chargers for hundreds of miles.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Really! This was my trip to Olympia the day that this was announced. and after 26 years in advertising there should be some retractions to this article. 10 + 2 = 12 in the next two weeks. I live in WA. a suburb of Portland OR, I could not make it to my state capital yesterday on the I-5 to Olympia, the only EV chargers that I saw in 160 miles were 2 units in Chahalis that were not operable. I own 2 leafs, I had to drive an ICE vehicle that cost $55 in gas versus $1 dollar worth of 91% Hydro powered electricity (once cent a mile). Implications of 10 chargers! that hasn't happened yet is misleading at best. And with the $2.2 billion and 2 yrs behind us we should do better or at at least get 100+ miles to Olympia. Reports of negotiated contracts using awarded funds have been published relinquishing 95% of the revenue for up to 15years or smaller percentage for up to 25 years to the winning EVSE bidder. I drive 12K miles a year per EV are all miles are local; but with just 1 DC fast charger 1/2 way. to Olympia the fueling wouldn't take any longer that my gas stop.
      garylai
      • 1 Day Ago
      This is great news! I'm in Seattle and travel to Leavenworth a few times a year. Now I can do it my Leaf!
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Day Ago
      These supposedly 'fast' chargers still take 30 minutes or more to recharge a battery, way too much time for just another hour on the road thereafter compare to 3 minutes for gas usually for the rest of the week.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Most EV owners only spend like 5 seconds unplugging in the morning and 5 seconds plugging in at night. BTW, 3 minutes for gas-up? Yeah, right.
          goodoldgorr
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Spec
          Im on the market for a well-maintain used hydrogen fuelcell car in 2025 to 2030 approx. Till then i continue to propose and negociate. If you are on the market for something else, then no problems but im not interrested by your products and do not interfere in my buying bid process. Everybody is enthilshed to buy what he wants, order for buying what he can envision at the price he or she felt is the cheapest.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Why doesn't california add charging stations to their roadside rest stops?? I know some are quite remote but PV panels in addition to local sourced electricity, would probably work beautifuuly!
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        Because California doesn't have any money. But there is that NRG settlement that will help get some chargers installed.
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