Monday, June 29, 2009

Why Plug-ins Work in Oregon

Via Project Get Ready

Oregon’s Electric Vehicle Update
June 2009

Oregon’s interest in electric vehicles has a logical and natural basis.

First, our state is renowned for its quirky, innovative policy reputation; we are often willing innovators and early adopters. The move to battery electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles appeals to our pioneering spirit.

Second, we Oregonians inhabit a special place of dramatic physical beauty that reinforces our sustainability, conservation, and environmental instincts. Given the mounting evidence about global warming and the carbon contamination that comes from internal combustion engines, the quest for low- and no-emission vehicles is obvious. Introducing and evaluating EVs of various size and purpose simply makes sense.

Third, approximately half of our electricity is generated from the Columbia River and a growing share of the energy portfolio comes from renewable sources. Electric vehicles and their role in our power grid hold great promise.

Fourth, our far-sighted land use laws, integrated transportation strategies, and interest in urban design and development have had us “kicking the tires” for some time now on new approaches to sustainable mobility. So we have been organizing and formalizing and thinking about approaches that will help our businesses and citizens get ready for a new transportation model, with the move toward electric vehicles as an earlier enabler of the transition.

Getting Plug-In Ready: Work in Progress

Executive Order: The Governor’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group

As part of the Governor’s climate change and sustainable transportation agenda, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Executive Order 08-24 back on September 26, 2008. The Order creates the Governor’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group. The group is charged with developing the policies and alternative fuel infrastructure for Oregon to attract car manufacturers seeking to bring the next generation of electric and alternative fuel vehicles to market in North America.

Formalizing agreements with electric vehicle manufacturers

During the last year, Oregon has entered agreements with Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi to be a testing ground for their new plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Discussions continue with other manufacturers as well. But that isn’t the whole story. Oregon is also home to dozens of local companies that are designing, building and providing services for the electric vehicle (EV) industry-including making cars.

Clean Cities Grant

The American Renewal and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes $300 million for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle projects. A diverse and expansive team of public and private sector organizations in Oregon has submitted a proposal for these funds, taking a significant step towards transforming Oregon’s transportation system from one almost solely dependent on petroleum to one increasingly dependent on electricity. The Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Office of Innovative Partnerships is serving as lead agency for this project. The application has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for funding through its Clean Cities program. Oregon’s proposal is for $15 million and will more than exceed the 50 percent match requirement. The project’s objectives are to:

  • Increase the number of various types of electric vehicles: regular hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric and medium-duty hybrid vehicles
  • Deploy charging stations throughout the state to support electrified vehicles and help convince average consumers that the infrastructure is there to support the use of these vehicles
  • Conduct public outreach and education as well as technician training on electric vehicles
  • Support the development of market opportunities for electric vehicles, batteries and charging stations
  • Gather data and study the use of electric vehicles and charging stations to support the development of this market across the country

Key Players

In addition to the 80 partners involved in Oregon’s Clean Cities grant request (see above), there are a large and growing number of institutional players involved in Oregon’s EV initiatives. Too numerous and dynamic to list here, key players include representatives from:

  • EV Industry (Brammo Motors, Arcimoto Motors, Shorepower, Oregon Electric Vehicle Association)
  • Utilities (Portland General Electric, Pacificorp, NW Natural Gas, Eugene Water & Electric Board)
  • Finance and Business Development (Intel Capital, Oregon Department of Economic and Community Development, Portland Development Commission)
  • Government (Multnomah County, Clackamas County, City of Portland, City of Corvallis, Office of the Governor, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Energy, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Global Warming Commission);
  • University Sector (Portland State University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, and Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC))

EV Cluster

A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field or market segment. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally.

Oregon has been pursuing a cluster strategy since 2005. The Oregon Business Plan is built around the cluster strategy. Some of our leading clusters are in the wood products, footwear and apparel, and renewable energy industries. The newest cluster, now forming, focuses on electric vehicles. The goal is to accelerate the growth of EV-related jobs in Oregon. While PDC is the convener, the effort is targeted statewide.

Statewide RFP for Charging Stations

ODOT has issued a first-in-the-nation solicitation for charging equipment to service electric vehicles (EVs). At the request of local entities and electric utilities throughout the state, ODOT is using its unique public/private partnership authority to establish consistent standards and uniformity in building an EV charging infrastructure for Oregon. ODOT’s Office of Innovative Partnerships (OIPP) is taking a leadership role by establishing standards for the appearance, performance and safety features of EV charging stations. The objective is to have centralized purchase agreements for EV charging equipment in place by the end of 2009 that will be available for use by other agencies, local governments, utility companies and others.

Charging locations may include public facilities such as Park-n-Rides, motor pools, campuses, and public rights of way or private property such as retail and office complexes. Resources for the EV initiative may become available through the federal economic stimulus package, which would accelerate the deployment of EV charging infrastructure. For more information or to download the request for proposal, visit

EV charging stations

Portland General Electric (PGE) is helping lead the way on plug-in vehicle adoption. To help customers be more sustainable, PGE is working with the City of Portland to develop a network of charging stations for plug-in hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles. The move responds to customers’ concerns about climate change and volatile gas prices, and anticipates the plan of car manufacturers to roll out the new generation of plug-in hybrids by 2010. For more information, check this link.

Portland State University Project with Toyota RAV 4s

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., is preparing to place four off-lease RAV4-EV battery-electric vehicles (BEV) in a new program in Portland, Oregon designed to assist in the development of clustered electric-charging infrastructure for the arrival of future zero- and low-emission vehicles.

The vehicles will be used as station cars for shuttling people from mass-transit terminals to downtown and suburban locations. The program is being developed by Portland State University (PSU), in association with the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) ZEV-NET (Zero Emission Vehicle-Network Enabled Transport) program.

Website by summer of 2009

We currently are designing and populating with content a website that will go into production early this summer. It will summarize who, is doing what, where and when with regard to electric vehicles in Oregon. More important, we hope to use the site to identify and support communities of interest within the commercial, nonprofit, and governmental sectors within our state, region, and beyond.

EV Conference Q4 2009

OTREC, PSU, and RMI are planning an EV conference in Portland this fall. We will target approximately 100 attendees by invitation only from the following groups:

Approximately 70 attendees from PGR cities, other cities; and, approximately 30 representatives from EV and auxiliary industries, government, media, international representatives, elected officials. The majority of participants will represent North American regions however we aim to have at least 5-10% of the audience representing international constituencies.

The objectives for the event are three-fold:

  • Meet: Get acquainted with peers, solidify relationships within and among the “anchor” cities of PGR. Provide discussion time and informal networking opportunities.
  • Learn: Status report from cities. Hear from manufacturers, industry analysts, government leaders, and media about vehicle production forecasts, pricing strategy, and generally how things look from their angle relative to EVs, NEVs, and other low- and no-emission vehicles.
  • Work: Document the question: What’s happening on the ground? Identify near term opportunities and barriers going forward (by region and, perhaps, collectively.) Consider using RMI process for developing 5-year vision and 2010 operating plan-including performance measures that begin to establish how we define and measure success by region and nationally

Education and conferences have elevated our thinking and accelerated dialogue …

Oregon has benefited from three important conferences/work sessions during the past year.

The first program, Meeting of the Minds was held last July in Portland. The event was designed to bring together leaders from multiple sectors and geographies to share ideas, learn from each other, and shape the agenda for creating more sustainable cities, with a particular focus on transportation and mobility. Those attending included over 200 policy makers, decision makers, opinion makers, rainmakers, and thought leaders from the commercial, nonprofit, and public sectors. The guests included representatives from the environmental, energy, economic development, and urban design communities with a stake in transportation, with many coming from Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, but approximately 20% were national and international participants.

Lat October, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) held a charrette with a national focus in Portland to help realize RMI’s Smart Garage vision: bringing electrified vehicles, advanced net-zero buildings, and a smart renewable grid together in innovative ways to provide clean, cheap, secure mobility and electricity. Many participants asked: when can we have a charrette solely focused on Portland? On February 26, 2009 lessons learned during RMI’s Smart Garage charrette were combined with the pioneering plug-in experience of Portland stakeholders to begin the process of drafting a coordinated, regional Portland plug-in readiness plan. The goal of this meeting was to bring many actors in the Portland Metro plug-in space together, to share activities and discuss movement forward, touching on the following components:

  1. Identification of major stakeholders required to push a regional effort forward, next steps

for how these representatives might work together, and an estimation of resources needed to make this collaboration happen (funding and person-hours).

  1. Prioritization of major milestones in several content areas.
  2. Recognition of essential questions to be answered or feedback required from other regional stakeholders.

Partners, Players, and Working Groups

As referenced in the first section of this summary, Oregon has several main cohorts engaged in electric vehicle activities at the moment:

The Governor’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group that is charged with developing the policies and alternative fuel infrastructure for Oregon to attract car manufacturers seeking to bring the next generation of electric and alternative fuel vehicles to market in North America.

The 80 public and private partners involved in Oregon Clean Cities grant request.

The EV manufacturers with which Oregon is entering memoranda of understanding to become a test bed for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The utility companies currently deploying charging stations and the state and local governmental entities that have defined and issued a statewide solicitation for charging infrastructure slated for award later this year.

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