Today, the first part of the West Coast Electric Highway was officially opened in Salem, OR. The idea is to put in enough fast chargers along Interstate 5 to allow EV drivers to just get in their cars and go. The distance between the stations is around 25 miles. Today's announcement means that the first eight chargers, all from Aerovironment, are now operational. Even better, for a "limited time," it does not cost any money to refill your battery. Each charging station includes one Level 2 and one DC fast charger.
As we reported last summer, Aerovironment has been installing the chargers for a while, with the eventual plan being to cover the entire 1,350-mile length of I-5. This should be completed by the end of 2012. Spurs leading off from I-5 – into cities like Portland – are also planned. The Oregon Department of Energy is spending $915,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., stimulus) funds to build the stations. If you're interested in using the chargers, click here.
Ashley Horvat, who works on the project for the State of Oregon, told CBS News that, "We are hoping we are setting the stage for what will become the first highway, but not necessarily the only highway that is electrified." While no highway in the U.S. has chargers installed along its entire length just yet, a network of chargers at Cracker Barrel restaurants in centrel Tennessee does offer another EV corridor. And Tesla Motors is talking about building a network of SuperChargers for its all-electric vehicles.
"Fast" electric vehicle (EV) charging stations from AeroVironment now open along I-5 in Southern Oregon, enabling convenient long-distance electric vehicle travel
AeroVironment will provide free charging to EV owners for a limited time
SALEM, Ore., March 16, 2012 – Cruising the open road is now a little closer to reality for electric vehicle owners in the Pacific Northwest.
Today, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), along with charging station partner AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) and the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE), opened the first phase of the West Coast Electric Highway, which is anticipated to eventually stretch along Interstate 5 from the Canadian to Mexican borders. The charging station hubs introduced today will provide electric vehicle (EV) owners access to a network of electric "refueling" stations along a major transportation artery in southern Oregon.
"As the first state in the nation to establish an EV charging infrastructure along a major interstate, Oregon is leading the EV pathway and supporting adoption of the next phase in the evolution of transportation," said Pat Egan, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission and vice president of customer and community affairs for Pacific Power. "Once Oregon's segment of the West Coast Electric Highway is completed, EV drivers will be able to travel from Ashland to Portland at a fraction of the cost of filling a gas tank and with no direct emissions."
The West Coast Electric Highway will eventually allow EV drivers to travel from San Diego to Vancouver, B.C. without relying on carbon-based fuel. "Fast" charging stations, included at each of the newly operational locations, can provide a full charge for an EV in less than 30 minutes; soon, these stations will dot interchanges up and down I-5.
"Plug-in vehicles are increasing in popularity, with many new models coming to market in 2012," said Art James, senior project executive with the Oregon Department of Transportation. "We wanted to develop state-of-the-art charging infrastructure to support them, and AeroVironment has helped us provide Oregon EV owners the ability to travel from community to community."
Spaced at roughly 25-mile intervals along the southern Oregon I-5, the AeroVironment charging stations are available at convenient locations in Cottage Grove, Rice Hill, Roseburg, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, Grants Pass, Central Point, and Ashland. Each location has two charging stations including one DC "fast" charger. Plans call for more than 40 additional charging stations from AeroVironment to be operational in Oregon and Washington by the end of the year.
"With the price of gas increasing, Oregon wants to provide more transportation alternatives," said Oregon Department of Energy Director Bob Repine. "It's important that Oregonians have clean transportation options."
ODOE awarded ODOT $915,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funding through ODOE's State Energy Program to install the network of EV charging stations.
Electric vehicle drivers will be able to activate access to the charging stations by signing up for AV's Charging Network at evsolutions.com/avnetwork or by calling toll-free at 888-833-2148. Once enrolled, EV drivers will receive an AV Network key fob that will allow access to all AeroVironment chargers along the West Coast Electric Highway. AeroVironment is also providing free charging for a limited time, giving EV drivers freedom and convenience on the open road.
"Oregon has firmly established itself as a leader in the clean transportation movement," said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Efficient Energy Systems business segment. "Together, AeroVironment, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Energy are delivering on the promise of transportation that promotes energy independence and frees drivers from fluctuating gas prices."
About Oregon Department of Energy
The Oregon Department of Energy provides tax credits, loans, technical assistance and energy information for homes, businesses, manufacturing, farms, ranches, schools and governments.
About Oregon Department of Transportation
The Oregon Department of Transportation values safety, customer service, efficiency, accountability, problem-solving, diversity and sustainability. Learn more at www.oregon.gov/ODOT.
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.
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