CRPUD

The Dual Level-2 Charging Station at Columbia River PUD.

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers now have more charging stations to choose from in Columbia County. The Columbia River People’s Utility District (PUD) recently installed two public EV charging stations in the parking lot of its Deer Island office.

The PUD installed a combo public DC-Fast Charging Station and Dual Level-2 Charging Station. Charging is open to the public. To charge their vehicles, EV drivers will need to download the ChargePoint app or have a ChargePoint card.

With the PUD’s rates, a full charge for a Chevy Bolt costs about $5. For that price, a fully charged Bolt with a 60-kW battery can travel about 250 miles.

These are the first of what Columbia River PUD anticipates will be several charging stations installed by the utility. The PUD is partnering with other local businesses and cities to ensure that more charging stations become available to CRPUD customers as EV demand increases. The PUD is currently working with the City of St. Helens to install a similar combo public charging station in the downtown area.

“Instead of fossil fuel, electricity will be the new energy for transportation - going from gas to grid,” said Columbia River PUD General Manager John Nguyen. “As the cost of EVs continues to decrease due to competition, and with the increase in EV choices, we believe that Columbia County is poised to experience a higher than average EV adoption rate considering the fact that 80% of our customers commute outside of the county for work. The challenge in this area is the lack of charging stations along Highway 30.”

The PUD installed the charging stations at no cost to its customers thanks in part to its participation in the Oregon Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) program. The PUD began its involvement in the LCFS program in 2016, when it signed on to be a credit aggregator. As a credit aggregator, the PUD receives carbon emission reduction credits from the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles registered in its service territory. These credits can later be traded or sold in the carbon marketplace.

In 2019, the PUD sold 1,000 credits to a Washington biofuel company, generating a total of $140,800. The PUD used some of this money to install its two charging stations and plans to use the remainder to build more EV charging infrastructure in Columbia County.

EV ownership is on the rise in Columbia County. As of July 1, there were 190 EVs registered in the PUD’s service area, an 11% increase over the previous six months. Statewide, EV adoption increased by 9% between January 1 and July 1, with the number of EVs registered in Oregon growing to 25,530.

Installing the charging stations in Deer Island is just one step Columbia River PUD has taken in response to growing demand for EVs. In addition, the PUD formed an EV Team and developed an EV Work Plan to promote both the economic and environmental benefits of EVs. The PUD now has a dedicated EV section on its website providing resources for customers with information related to:

• EV Benefits

• EV FAQs

• Gasoline to Electric Savings Calculator

• Incentive Stacker Tool

• EV Promotions and Events Directory

• Carbon Calculator

• Public Charger Finder

The PUD added a Chevy Bolt EV to its office fleet in 2018 and plans to replace aging vehicles with EVs going forward. To accommodate these updates to the fleet, the PUD installed a Level 2 charger at its office with infrastructure to support eight more.

Earlier this year, the PUD introduced a rebate program for customers who install Level 2 chargers at their homes.

The PUD is partnering with FORTH Mobility of Portland and Emmert Motors of St. Helens to host an EV Ride & Drive Event next month. The event will take place during Public Power Week, on Thursday, October 10. It will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the PUD’s office in Deer Island. There is no cost to participate in the event.

The Ride & Drive Event is an opportunity for PUD customers to test drive EVs and ask industry experts about this emerging technology.

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