West Coast Electric Highway kicks off in Oregon

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Setting up the AeroVironment charging station in Cottage Grove, Ore.

Setting up the AeroVironment charging station in Cottage Grove, Ore. Image: OregonDOT/Flickr/CC BY

The West Coast Electric Highway initiative is a plan to set up charging stations for plug-in vehicles along the West Coast, from San Diego, Calif., to Vancouver, British Columbia. The hope is to encourage the sales of EVs by relieving driver’s “range anxiety.” Tuesday, the first AeroVironment EV charging stations opened along I-5 in Southern Oregon.

Free charges for a limited time

The stations will be manufactured by the California company AeroVironment. The recharge stations can power up an EV in less than half an hour. The company will provide free charges to all EVs for a limited time. The company did not say what the cost of a charge will be later on.

Encourage EVs, reduce pollution

AeroVironment is a partner in the initiative with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon department of Energy. The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the sales of electric vehicles by providing infrastructure for them. An increase of EVs on the road will reduce air pollution as well as the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said of the initiative:

“The Electric Highways Project will encourage more people and businesses in Washington to buy and use plug-in electric vehicles. Increasing the market demand for electric vehicles will help reduce the transportation sector’s impact upon the environment and dependency on foreign oil. By setting the stage for the EV industry to thrive in a clean economy, the project also could mean new jobs and other opportunities for Washington residents.”

‘No direct emissions’

Pat Egan, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, said in a statement:

“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. 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.”

American drivers look at alternatives

As gas prices teeter near the $4 per gallon mark, many Americans are looking at more fuel-efficient vehicles. A recent report from Kelley Blue Book showed that an increase in demand has raised the cost of used hybrid and subcompact cars.

[Looking for an alternative to that as guzzler? We can show you how to buy a car online.]

Forty more to be added

The first stations are located about 25 miles apart in Cottage Grove, Rice Hill, Roseburg, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, Grants Pass, Central Point and Ashland, Ore. It is planned to install 40 additional stations along the Oregon and Washington coast by the end of 2012.


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