My EV isn't my valentine, but there's a lot to love

Lynn Peterson serves as Gov. John Kitzhaber’s sustainable communities and transportation policy advisor.

Lynn Peterson serves as Gov. John Kitzhaber’s sustainable communities and transportation policy advisor. In addition to her Nissan Leaf, she gets around in a Highlander Hybrid that accommodates her four dogs and with a variety of two-wheeled options.

My interest in electric vehicles began back in the late 1990s, when my husband and I converted a 1987 Fiat Spider. It was a challenge and a conversation starter. I embraced the cutting-edge technology that enabled us to create it. It was red. It was cute. It had 20 gel cell batteries and went just 40 miles. I loved it.

For similar reasons and to fuel an ever-expanding EV passion, I bought the third Toyota Prius off the boat in 2000 and now own my second Nissan Leaf, which I call Sprout. I drive Sprout to Salem from my home in Lake Oswego three days a week.

I bought the car not knowing how it would handle the commute, but I thought it was important for me to have first-hand knowledge of the latest in electric vehicle technology. It was about the experience. And, as the governor’s sustainable communities and transportation policy adviser, it was necessary to know how the system works, where it works and where it doesn’t. I also love how inexpensive it is to plug in rather than fuel up in a conventional car. Even the hybrid owners’ jaws drop when I tell them my monthly electric bill has increased by just $25 dollars, despite my lengthy commute.

I push it too, taking Sprout on longer trips, driving all the way to Gold Beach for a vacation, holiday shopping in McMinnville or taking the scenic route home from Salem sometimes for fun. Just in case, I have a foldable bike in the trunk, so if I have to park at a charging station far away from my destination, I’m covered, and I am able to speed up the length of my commute.

All cars have their good and not-so-good features. Being an EV owner does require some creativity, as illustrated by my summer road trip to Gold Beach: I plugged in at an RV park, met up with fellow EV owners and charged at their home and plugged in at City Hall while meeting with the Port Orford City Manager for lunch.

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