COLUMN: Kris Strickler's KEEP OREGON MOVING
This past spring, Oregon reached an electric vehicle milestone: 50,000 registered EVs.
Every one of those electric vehicles is a win for our climate. EVs keep our air cleaner, our communities healthier and help us reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change.
With gas prices near all-time highs, signs point to accelerating EV adoption rates in Oregon over the next decade. Nearly all forms of transportation have growing EV options, from e-bikes to school buses to delivery vans.
Of course, all these new EVs need somewhere to charge up. Our recent studies reveal that today, most EV owners charge at home. But as EVs get more popular, more people in different living situations will decide to go electric.
We need more charging options now or we'll risk flattening the EV adoption curve. If people aren't confident an EV can get them where they need to go, they won't choose one for their next vehicle. That's where ODOT comes in.
ODOT is leading the electrification push by investing $100 million in public EV charging infrastructure over the next five years.
That $100 million — a mix of federal and state dollars — will go to public EV charging along Oregon's major roads and in our communities.
Along major roads, ODOT is partnering with private companies to build public EV fast charging stations every 50 miles along roads like Interstates 5 and 84, and U.S. 97, 101 and 20. Each station will sport multiple DC fast chargers (which can fully charge an EV's battery in less than 30 minutes) and will be designed to keep up with advances in EV and battery technology. These stations will bolster the existing public charging network which ODOT has helped to build in the past few years. Installation work on the new stations will begin in spring 2023.
The benefit of more public EV fast charging on these routes is boosting confidence for EV drivers on long trips. They won't have to worry if their EV will run out of charge between destinations or have to wait for hours at a slow-charging station.
Oregon's communities need more local, equitable and easy-to-access public EV charging options, especially for people who live in places where it's harder to charge EVs, like apartment buildings.
ODOT's new Community EV Charging Rebate Program will help address this problem. The program will reimburse entities up to 75% of the cost of buying and installing an EV charging station. Prime candidates for the funding are apartment buildings and "stop and shop" locations.
The majority of the available funding will be reserved for projects in disadvantaged communities and rural communities. We expect the program will be up and running early next year.
There are also billions of dollars in federal grants available for community EV charging projects thanks to the 2021 federal infrastructure law. ODOT will be competing aggressively for these dollars. Oregon has been a leader on EVs and we stand a good chance to win a big share of this funding.
Cars, trucks and SUVs aren't the only EVs in our communities these days. Bicycles, scooters and similar ways of getting around are also going electric and they'll need public charging options too. Adding a 110v outlet to a charging station is an easy, low-cost option, and one our community charging rebate program will encourage.
Oregon also needs charging infrastructure to support larger electrified vehicles, like school buses and delivery vans. Most experts agree electrifying larger vehicles is the biggest hurdle we face, and ODOT will pursue federal grants in this area to ensure our state's goods keep moving efficiently and (hopefully) emissions free.
ODOT is all in on electrifying our transportation system. EVs are a central piece of the emissions reduction puzzle, and we're doing all we can to accelerate EV adoption rates across the state. Oregon's future is electric.
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