Vancouver plugs in to charging stations
City will use stimulus cash to link with regional electric vehicle system
Monday, August 9, 2010
Electric vehicle charging stations will soon be plugged into spots around Vancouver, linking the city to a regional system that will keep zero-emissions cars moving from Canada to California, city officials said.
The city will use $100,000 of its $1.6 million in federal stimulus money earmarked for environmental improvements to install chargers for electric cars, including the Nissan Leaf, which will be sold in Portland and Seattle starting at the end of this year.
The chargers will be installed in early 2011, just as the vehicles hit the market, said Vancouver business development manager Alisa Pyszka said. The Leaf has a range of 100 miles, meaning that drivers will need plenty of charging opportunities as they travel along the Interstate 5 corridor.
“It’s a statement saying we’re contributing to the sustainable infrastructure,” Pyszka said. “ Looking at the I-5 corridor, you’ll know they are located in necessary increments, and if you pull over you can recharge.”
One issue, however, is choosing the right kind of charging station. Last week, Portland unveiled North America’s first quick-charging station, which takes only 20 to 30 minutes to bring an electric vehicle to 80 percent capacity. Other chargers, which are already located all over Portland, supply 240 volts and take four to eight hours to achieve a full charge.
But with the quicker charge comes a higher price — it’s about $35,000 for each quick-charging station versus about $5,000 for the 240-volt stations.
“What we’re considering is the convenience of use in relation to the cost,” Pyszka said.
One charger will go in at Turtle Place downtown, and at least one will be placed in east Vancouver, depending on which chargers the city chooses to buy, she said.
“The right answer is a combination of both,” said Charlie Allcock, director of economic development for Portland General Electric. “Offering people choices is going to be an important thing to do.”
PGE installed the new quick-charging station, manufactured by NED Corp., in the parking garage at Two World Trade Center. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski took a test-drive of the Leaf and celebrated the new station Wednesday.
Washington and Oregon are among six states that are part of the ECOtality EV Project, which will use $230 million of mostly federal money to put in 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities, including Portland and Seattle.
The state Department of Transportation also has plans to install charging stations along I-5.
The Nissan Leaf is a four-door hatchback with a lithium-ion battery. It will cost $32,780, but state and federal tax credits drop the price significantly. The $41,000 Chevrolet Volt, which can go for 40 miles on electricity before switching to gas, is set to go on sale in December. A tax reduction of up to $7,500 will apply.
Electric cars may also be charged in the home.
Allcock said that the region’s leading role in high-tech charging stations makes electric vehicles ideal for Clark County residents.
“Sixty thousand residents of Southwest Washington travel across the river to work everyday,” he said. “They don’t have very long commutes, so they’re ideally suited for using an electric vehicle to meet those transportation needs.”
Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or email@example.com.