An Update on the West Coast Green Highway
By Solar Oregon Board Member Bruce Barney
Did you know that soon you will be able to drive an electric car from Mexico to Vancouver B.C. using new DC fast chargers that will allow you to charge up in just 20-30 minutes? The new West Coast Electric Highway has been funded in part by you and me (through the US Department of Energy), and is including car charging infrastructure in six states, including Oregon, Washington, and California. The Electric Highway goal? Make it possible to easily drive an electric car anywhere up and down the I-5 corridor.
The DC fast chargers (called Level 3 chargers) create DC power from a 480 volt commercial service to dump energy into the car’s batteries very quickly. This enables a driver to have a cup of coffee while the charger does its work and then be on his way again in just a few minutes. Certainly it is a rare person that would want to drink that much coffee going from Canada to Mexico, but for the occasional trip from Portland to Roseburg for example, the use of the fast chargers make owning an electric vehicle that much more reasonable.
Here’s the list of quick charger locations in Oregon: Portland, Woodburn, Salem, Halsey, Springfield, Cottage Grove, Rice Hill, Roseburg, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, Grants Pass, Central Point, Ashland. You can see they are spaced 20 to 30 miles apart, so it’s easy to make it from one to the next, or skip a few if your electric car has the range to do so.
Many of the chargers are powered by renewable energy, but not all of them. Next time you see one of these DC Fast Chargers, ask the host store, coffee shop, gas station, or restaurant if they are buying renewable power for the charger!