EV Project: Slower than projected, but alive and well
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
ECOtality workers installed Oregon's first public charging station last June in Wilsonville.
The six-state effort to put charging stations for electric vehicles in public and private venues — and research what it’ll take to ramp up support for EVs — is slowly moving forward, looking to wrap in June 2013.
The EV Project, led by the San Francisco-based transportation and storage technology company ECOtality Inc., is valued at $230 million. Originally set to end in Oct. 2012, the project has moved slower than expected as a learning curve around production and installation of EV chargers has pitched sharply and new vehicles and regions have joined in. The project also encountered delays in vehicle delivery from tsunami-troubled Japan and from slow progress by the Society of Automotive Engineers in developing standards for vehicle and charging manufacturers.
Those involved, however, say they are culling valuable data from the effort, which is intended to gather information about what it will take to reach a federal goal of putting 1 million EVs on the road by 2015.
“I think that’s really the value of what we’re getting out of this research study,” said Charles Allcock, director of economic development at Portland General Electric, which has worked closely with ECOtality to site and install public charging stations. He points to new information about charging habits, retail partnerships, charger locations, installation techniques and vehicle adoption. All of those things place Oregon among states best prepared for EV adoption, as well a putting the state in a position to build infrastructure for EVs around real learning, not just abstracts, he said.
The EV Project kicked off in Oct. 2009 with a $99.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, followed by a second, $15 million grant the following year. Organizers say it is about half funded with public money. The remaining funds come from project partners, including cities, universities and corporate sponsors interested in the research.
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