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Electric Avenue, Portland
There’s lots of way to move forward – walking, running, bicycling. But thanks to efforts by the NECA-IBEW team around the country, one way to go, driving, is really moving forward.

That is most obviously on display on the campus of Portland State University, where at the confluence of government, industry and research lies a novel test run for something we’re all banking on: electric vehicles.

ETV’s Dominic Giarratano has the story.

Green energy stories aren’t in short supply. Wind, geothermal, solar – all are vital solutions to our nation’s energy problems.

But sometimes in Portland, the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. So what’s a green energy buff to do? Drive an electric car.

Best of all, the new partnership between NECA, the IBEW, Portland Gas and Electric and Portland State University is finding innovative solutions to some of the most vexing problems in the EV market.

So they rocked on down to Electric Avenue.

Rick Durst, project manager, Portland General Electric
“Installations like Electric Avenue here is part of a research project with Portland State University will help us understand how customers are using power, what it takes to put in infrastructure like this and to make sure in the future that we can meet our customers’ needs.”

Pat Hughes, President, Hughes Electric
“I believe there was 8 chargers from 7 different manufacturers. So each one required a little bit different wiring method to do each one. And they had to be laid out specially to accommodate the way the street was formed too.”

George Beard, Office of research and strategic partnerships, Portland State University
“How people move in cities is important today, and it will be even more important tomorrow particularly with regard to energy use. Frankly we ship a lot of money out of our economy to worship at the altar of oil. And I apologize for my hyperbole but even in a small state like Oregon, we send 6.2 billion dollars out of our economy. That’s money that’s not available for schools or infrastructure or the commonwealth. That’s important.”

Charging stations are vital to getting EV technology on the ground. Without projects like Electric Avenue, and all the research that goes with them, we’ll never be able to fully comprehend the viability of these alternative modes of transportation. For instance, should the charging stations be sprinkled around a municipality or centralized? Is it necessary for the technology to be standardized across makes and models? And how can each station fit in with existing alternative modes of transportation? Each of these questions is being addressed at length with the Electric Avenue project.

Rick Durst, project manager, Portland General Electric
“Right now there’s a lot of different things to help people find charging stations. GPS, on the Leaf you can push a button that says that you can find charging stations just by pushing.”

Pat Hughes, President, Hughes Electric
“People are not going to buy cars until we have charging stations. Where are they going to plug their cars in? So once we get that whole thing rolling, I think it’s going to take off good.”
Finally, and most importantly: why should building owners and businesses think about installing EV charging stations right now?

Rick Durst, project manager, Portland General Electric
“You have places like Fred Meyer that are putting in charging stations, so they see it as a place that they can show to their customer that they’re looking at environmental aspect of having EV charging and all the benefits that has. The first month, of charging, the quick charge station had been used 60 times.”

Joe Esmonde, Political Director, Head of Renewable Energy, IBEW 48
“Started when I couldn’t even spell EV. I said, hey, we should be there, our contractors should be there. And here we are. If it has electrons flowing, the IBEW and their partners at NECA want to be there.

From Portland, I’m Dominic Giarratano.

Thanks for that story, Dom. EV stations are popping up all around us, and the NECA-IBEW team is hoping that this work will fall to them, as the best trained, best value electricians in the business.