Vehicle recharging stations will stay until 2014

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO CHRIS ONSTOTT - Electric vehicles like this Nissan Leaf can continue recharging at PSU for another year.Electric Avenue, the short street lined with electric-vehicle changing stations at Portland State University, will continue for a third and final year.

The announcement was made last week by George Beard, head of business development at PSU’s Executive Leadership Institute, at Drive Revolution, an alternative-vehicle expo held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It included presentations, displays and test-drives of various hybrid, all-electric and clean-diesel vehicles.

The stations were installed along a stretch of Southwest Montgomery Street as a joint project between PSU and Portland General Electric in August 2011. Although they originally were scheduled to be removed this August, Beard said they will remain till August 2014. They must be removed then, however, for the renovation of the adjacent School of Business, Beard said.

Beard described Electric Avenue as a “charging oasis.” He said it was created as a research project to study how drivers recharge their EVs. It soon became a staging ground for many EV-related events, including the debut of the prototype version of Ford’s all-electric version of the compact Focus and the national launch of Mitsubishi’s all-electric MiEV subcompact. PSU also based a test fleet of pre-production plug-in Toyota Prius Hybrids there.

“We built it, and they did come,” Beard said.

Beard made his announcement while addressing members of the Northwest Automotive Press Association on Thursday. He said clustering the stations together between Southwest Broadway and Sixth Avenue increased their use by creating additional awareness of them. Beard also said that their location near MAX and Portland Streetcar stops at PSU made them especially attractive for EV drivers.

“You can plug your car in, jump on transit, spend a few hours in different parts of town, then return to a fully recharged vehicle,” Beard said.

Although no decision has yet been made about whether Electric Avenue will be re-established somewhere else at PSU, Beard hopes Portland transportation will create a number of similar facilities around town.

Beard told the writers that electrified vehicles of all kinds will be necessary to make cities more livable in the future. He said population growth and urban migration are increasing the population of cities around the world — and predicted the trends will only increase in the future.

“Cars and cities are not a good fit,” Beard said about pollution from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. “But short, stop-and-go trips are perfect for EVs.”

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