Washington and Oregon Jockey for Plug-in Leadership

Washington and Oregon jockey for plug-in leadership

6a0120a635cd9d970c0134878f2754970c-120wi.Yesterday Plug In America President Dan Davids and I attended Get Plug-in Ready–Now! in Bellevue, Washington. It was a regional, one-day workshop to help public and private entities prepare for the arrival of electric vehicles this Fall. It was organized by Puget Sound New Energy Solutions and hosted by Puget Sound Energy. Well over 200 people attended.

Three months ago I had attended a similar workshop put on by Portland General Electric in Portland, Oregon. Charlie Allcock from PGE attended this workshop, and let us know that Oregon has since obtained federal funding for their portion of the Green Highway project to electrify the I-5 corridor. The Oregon and Washington meetings both plan to reconvene every 6 months or so–and continue to cross-pollinate.

The most inspiring aspect of both of these events was the wide range of attendees–dozens of organizations were represented. There were many government officials from the city, county, state and federal levels. There were auto and charging station manufacturers and installers. There were utilities and non-profits. And everybody was trying to do the same thing: displace as much gasoline-powered transportation with electricity as we can. While there is more to do, everything is going in the right direction.

Dan Davids was one of the speakers. He was on a panel about charging stations, and presented the results of Plug In America’s survey of current EV drivers. While his time at the podium was a small part of the day, his work was not. The Model Ordinance that Plug In America did for the Puget Sound Regional council came up again and again; it was touted as a valuable tool to get dozens of municipalities on-board for setting up infrastructure in a timely fashion. When Washington passed a bill to encourage electric vehicles, it included money for the Puget Sound Regional Council to produce a Model Ordinance that includes sample laws so that municipalities in the state can simply incorporate the guidelines in to their ordinances, rather than developing them on their own.

During a media break, six of us drove our electric vehicles in to the PSE courtyard for questions and photos. Seattle weather being what it is, the rain started as soon as we arrived, so we had to put the tops on our cars and cut it short.

6a0120a635cd9d970c0133f46f6f2f970b-320wi.There are at least four charging station projects going on in Washington. The US Department of Energy has funded two very large ones; one centered in Seattle and one centered on the East side of Lake Washington. The state Department of Transportation is working with Oregon, California and British Columbia on the West Coast Green Highway project to put charging stations all along I-5. As Jeff Doyle from WA DOT put it, the goal is to remove barriers to adoption of electric vehicles, so Level 3 “fast” chargers will come first. The Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition announced that they also have a project for 125 charging stations in the area, concentrated on fleets. They are also planning on photovoltaic solar stations, and looking to do more public outreach and education. Within the next year there should be over 50 Level 3 (480V DC) charging stations and thousands of Level 2s (240V AC) in Washington.

The West Coast Corridor Coalition had a meeting at Stanford last week to discuss the Green Highway project; Dan was a speaker at that event as well. Their next meeting will be in mid-November at UC Davis. Washington and Oregon seem to be serious about their claims to be leaders in the electrification of transportation; in fact it sounds as if they may soon collaborate on more than just the Green Highway project.

Chad Schwitters

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