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Oregon joins clean vehicle pact

Oregon and seven other states announced an initiative Thursday to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads within a dozen years.

“This initiative fulfills so many of Oregon’s goals and will spur the kind of innovation that supports a healthy and vibrant economy,” Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said as part of the announcement. “Not only will it help reduce transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, it also enhances our state’s energy diversity, gives Oregon consumers more options, and helps move Oregon’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan forward.”

Under the initiative, the eight states, which comprise nearly 25 percent of the American vehicle market, will promote the use of clean vehicles, which include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles. These technologies can be used in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.  

The initiatives goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health, enhancing energy diversity, saving consumers money, and promoting economic growth.

The eight states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. All of the governors in the states have signed a cooperative agreement that identifies specific actions increase the national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars by pursuing the following efforts:

• Align building codes to make it easier to construct electric car charging stations.  

• Lead by example by including zero emission vehicles in public fleets. 

• Evaluate and establish, where appropriate, financial and other incentives to promote zero emission vehicles.

• Consider establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging systems. 

• Develop common standards for roadway signs and charging networks.

The eight states will develop an action plan over the next six months that will include many of these strategies and others.

These states are among a group of states that have adopted rules requiring about 15 percent of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Collectively, they represent more than 23 percent of the U.S. car market, and expect to have at least 3.3 million of these vehicles operating on their roadways by that time.

Electricity is the most widely available source of power and typically costs about two-thirds less than gasoline on a per-mile basis. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car. U.S. electric car sales in 2012 more than tripled to about 52,000 from 17,000 in 2011. Consumers bought more than 40,000 plug-in cars in the first and second quarters of 2013. There are more than 3,000 electric vehicles registered in Oregon (pure electric and plug-in hybrid electrics) as of July 1, 2013.

More than 6,700 charging stations are open to the public in the signatory states. Oregon has 342 electric vehicle charging locations open to the public including 66 fast chargers (480 volt 3-phase). Oregon has more fast chargers than any other state. By 2015, nearly every major automaker will have zero emission vehicles available for sale or lease, and more than 200,000 zero-emission vehicles are expected to be on the road across the U.S.

The cooperative agreement, or “Memorandum of Understanding,” is available at www.oregon.gov/DEQ/Pages/index.aspx.