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

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