Oregon gets filling stations for electric cars

LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON - Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad figures that if people can plug in, they will drive in.

The affluent suburb south of Portland has spent about $7,500 to buy and install what amounts to a filling station downtown for the tiny number of all-electric vehicles in Oregon.

The charging stations allow the cars to fill up by plugging cords into a receptacle that looks like a gasoline pump.

Portland General Electric is building a network of such stations.

Besides downtown Lake Oswego, the stations are at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry across the Willamette River from downtown Portland, and at PGE’s Salem and Portland offices.

Hammerstad says Lake Oswego officials hope for an economic boost from electric car drivers who spend some time and money locally.

“Most of all,” she said, “it’s setting the stage for other cities. If we can do it, you can do it. This is a big step forward in sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.”

The utility is working with cities and companies to install the charging stations. At first, the partners pay for the electricity, which comes from renewable sources.

There are about 270 all-electric passenger cars registered in Oregon, state transportation officials say.

The number pales in comparison to 26,338 registered hybrid vehicles. And even those account for less than 1 percent of the state’s 3.3 million passenger cars.

One of the all-electrics belongs to Brian Toye, a Lake Oswego resident.

It’s a dark blue, 2007 ZENN, which stands for Zero Emission, No Noise electric vehicle, built in Canada.

“When (gas) hit $3.20, we pretty much snapped,” Toye said after plugging it in. “We said there’s got to be a better way.”

He said the car cost $14,000, but the net was about $7,000 after a $1,250 Oregon tax credit and sale of their second vehicle.

“We expect it to pay for itself in two-and-a-half years,” he said.

One full charge lasts the Toyes 30 miles and takes about six to seven hours to charge from a dead battery.

Charging 80 percent of the battery usually takes about four hours.


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