EV Project arrives in Oregon with free charging stations for …

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EV Project arrives in Oregon with free charging stations for electric cars

View full size Dominique Fong / The Oregonian David Hopper, 41, of Beaverton hooks his electric Nissan Leaf car to a charging station mounted to the wall of his garage.

Note: Correction appended.

BEAVERTON — Hundreds of Oregonians who signed up for the EV Project. a national study supported by federal grants, soon will have a free charging station paid for by the project and zero gas bills.

As part of the project, ECOtality. a clean-energy tech company, announced on Wednesday the mass installation of about 1,150 charging stations for homes, businesses and public spaces across the state.

Backed by $115 million in federal grants, ECOtality plans to set up more than 15,000 charging stations in 16 major cities nationwide, including Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Medford.

The first of the project’s stations was installed last week at the Beaverton home of David Hopper, who during Wednesday’s launch event revealed his new Nissan Leaf electric car and wall-mounted charging station in his garage.

It just makes sense, Hopper said. It’s economical, it’s safe, and I don’t have to go to the gas station.

Hopper, 41, said he received his new car in January and paid about two cents for each of the 900 miles he’s already driven, a total of $18.

Local government leaders and representatives from ECOtality and Portland General Electric touted the importance of providing resources for a society less dependent on oil.

ECOtality is accelerating the advancement of electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels, Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle said in his speech.

To help with ECOtality’s efforts, the city of Beaverton is planning to install two public charging stations at City Hall and four at the library, said Cindy Tatham, the city’s sustainability program coordinator.

During the next year, ECOtality will install charging stations for the rest of the 600 people in Oregon who already registered for the project, which requires their personal purchase of a Nissan Leaf electric car before they receive the free station, a $1,200 value. After a federal tax credit of as much as $7,500, project participants could expect to pay about $26,000 for the Nissan Leaf.

In other cities selected for the national project, Chevrolet Volt electric cars also were offered as a second option for consumers. However, Chevrolet has not announced whether it would release Volts in Oregon in time for the project, according to David Mayfield, Oregon area manager for ECOtality.

As part of the project, customers will allow ECOtality to monitor nonpersonal information from their electric car and charging station, such as levels of energy and length of charging time. ECOtality is expected to report its findings by 2013 to the U.S. Department of Energy. data that will help create more efficient infrastructures for electric cars.

The study will help with the efficiency of locating (charging stations) in the most probable places where people are charging, Mayfield said.

Aside from the EV Project’s plans, 29 charging stations in Oregon currently are listed on the U.S. Department of Energy website. Most are in the Portland area, including two public stations in downtown and a private one at Nike’s campus near Beaverton.

To help implement the EV Project, the Oregon Department of Energy specifically created an electric vehicle advisory committee to help ECOtality meet building codes and other structural issues.

If a barrier comes along, we’ll try to find out that barrier to keep this thing running smoothly, so the experience will be easy for the consumer when they buy the car, said Rick Wallace, a policy analyst with the Energy Department.

ECOtality’s 240-volt charging stations can charge a Nissan Leaf battery in seven hours, which would cost about $2.64 less than the price for one gallon of gas.

Hopper demonstrated the charging process in his garage, hooking a black tube from his charging station to an outlet under the front hood of the car. A screen on the charging station turned on and showed the car’s energy level.

As more public stations are installed, project participants will be able to reserve a spot at popular locations from their car dashboard, Mayfield said.

Bob Jenks, executive director of the Citizens’ Utility Board. an advocacy group on behalf of utility ratepayers, said he supports the push for more people to switch to electric cars.

If we’re going to deal with climate change on the transportation side, a good way is to move to electric cars or electric hybrid cars, and find a way to charge them with renewable energy, Jenks said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction, published Feb. 24, 2011:

David Hopper of Beaverton said he paid about 2 cents a mile to drive his Nissan Leaf electric car 900 miles since he got it in January. An article in Thursday Business misstated the cost.

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