How to resuscitate the electric car
By Jim Piro
Portland General Electric
In the summer of 2006 the Hollywood Theater in Portland hosted a showing of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" an award-winning documentary that tells the story of why General Motors’ EV1 of the ‘90s — and other electric vehicles — didn’t make it the first time around.
Thankfully four short years later, we have a different story to tell. Electric transportation is finally coming to market and Oregon will be at the forefront of the next-generation electric vehicle movement.
Soon after my company, Portland General Electric, unveiled its first redesigned electric vehicle charging station in July 2008, a movement was set in motion in Portland that quickly grew throughout the region. Since then, we have seen amazing activity occurring around electric vehicles, including Oregon being selected as one of five states to participate in the largest electric vehicle test project in U. S. history.
There are several key factors why electric vehicles can succeed this time around, including commitment from auto manufacturers, advanced battery technology, our desire to reduce dependence on expensive foreign oil, and growing public concern over climate change.
Thanks to a nearly $100 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, Oregon and four other states will install more than 11,000 electric vehicle charging stations and deliver nearly 4,700 all-electric Nissan Leaf vehicles as part of the EV Project, led by Phoenix-based Electric Transportation Engineering Corp., known as eTec.
We’ve also seen tremendous local government leadership and support to help propel the EV movement forward. Cities like Portland, Lake Oswego, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Oregon City, and Keizer stepped up early to partner with PGE on the region’s first charging station network. We’ve also partnered with businesses committed to sustainability — forward-thinking companies like Nike and Intel.
Jim Piro is president and CEO of PGE. For more information on PGE’s electric transportation program, visit PortlandGeneral.com/PlugIn.
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