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Utility CEO: 170,000 electric vehicles wouldn't overload Portland's grid *UPDATE

Portland, OR strives to be the U.S. hub for plug-in vehicles. What other city has dedicated an entire block to plug-in vehicle charging? During a ceremony on Tuesday, Portland mayor Sam Adams plugged in the first vehicle at "Electric Avenue" and dedicated the charger-lined street. On display for the ceremony were plug-in vehicles from Nissan, Chevrolet and Mitsubishi and charging stations from Eaton, Ecotality, General Electric, OpConnect, Shorepower Technologies, and SPX.

Electric Avenue is but one point along the proposed plug-in corridor, ranging from Vancouver, BC in the north to Bend, Oregon in the south. Some portions of the corridor are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2012 and the tentative agreement also calls for an extension into California.

At the Electric Avenue ceremony, Jim Piro, chief executive officer of Portland General Electric, projected that by 2012 around 2020, up to one out of ten new vehicles registered in the city Portland will be of the plug-in type. Piro stated:
So for us, by then, that would be about 170,000 vehicles in the Portland metro area, or about 50 megawatts of additional capacity – barely enough for the utility's load to change, especially if vehicles charge at off-peak times.
Piro went on to say that even if all vehicles in Portland were electric, only one additional natural gas-to-electricity facility would be required. So, we've one city that seems pretty prepped for plug-ins – how long until the rest of the U.S. is ready, too?

*UPDATE: We got a note saying that Piro did not say he expects 1 percent (or 170,000 vehicles) of vehicles to be electric or hybrid in Oregon by 2012. He said, instead, that PCE's resource plan is to be able to support that many vehicles over the next 10 years. That would be 2020ish, not 2012, and would require a modest 50 MW.

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