Oregon: The State With Its Own Chief EV Officer

By · November 22, 2013

Ashley Horvat

Oregon's very own Chief EV Officer, Ashley Horvat, has been in office since April. (Jim Motavalli photo)

“Just a short drive from downtown Portland, the Willamette Valley is the most well-known of Oregon’s 17 wine-growing regions.” So reads one of five itineraries on the Travel Oregon site designed to help electric car drivers vacation…with their vehicles.

Serious About EVs

Oregon is hugely serious about electric cars. As far as I can tell, it’s the only state with its own Chief EV Officer, in the person of the hard-working Ashley Horvat. This is no make-work volunteer title: she is employed by the state DOT, and was "designated as the state lead on EVs through an agreement with Governor John Kitzhaber." There's a complex mission that includes managing the $4 million fast-charge network in the state's portion of the West Coast Electric Highway.

Horvat is also charged not only with getting more Oregonians buying EVs, but bringing in electric car-driving tourists from northern California, British Columbia and Washington. It’s feasible, now that the I5 corridor is fully operational with fast charging all the way.

Charging at the Hood River

Fast charging at the Hood River, the most popular of the state stops. (Harry Dalgaard III/Travel Oregon photo)

“Tourists can come in with their own cars, or else, through an agreement with Nissan, rent them from Enterprise or Hertz,” said Horvat, who also attended the big international EVS 27 conference in Spain this week as part of her work marketing the state. “We’re also hoping the tourism program will educate people in the state, by bringing EVs to parts of Oregon that normally don’t see many of them.”

The Brewery Stop

Oregon will have 43 fast chargers (with AeroVironment as a partner) by sometime next year, and already there have been 10,000 “parking events” of people charging at them. Horvat points out that the most popular destination is a charger on the Hood River, next to Full Sail Brewing Company. Driving their EVs an hour from Portland, tourists can relax, have a beer, and watch the windsurfers and kiters on the Columbia River. “We’re seeing a lot of usage for our fast chargers,” Horvat said.

Pioneer Square EVs

EVs gather in Portland's Pioneer Square on EV Celebration Day. (Patrick Connor photo)

Harry Daalgard III, a destination development specialist with Travel Oregon, says that “a lot of our popular tourism routes are now EV-accessible.” Most of the infrastructure is in western Oregon, but that’s home to 80 percent of state’s the population, Daalgard said. He said that Oregon is now just two fast chargers away from having the entire western seaboard of the state accessible (50 to 60 miles apart).

If you want, you can visit covered bridges by EV, sample local wines, do a coastal loop, visit Mount Hood, or journey to the Rogue River National Forest.

According to Horvat, who took office last April, there are now approximately 3,500 electric cars, including plug-in hybrids, in Oregon. In Portland, the Nissan LEAF is outselling all other Nissan models. And Nissan, Honda, Ford and General Motors have joined in a new Energize Oregon Coalition. Robert Langford of Honda praised the coalition for “pulling together the key stakeholders and decision-makers in Oregon to promote adoption of electric vehicles.”

Oregon EVs

EVs, including a Tesla Roadster, lined up in Portland. (Portland Development Commission photo)

Number Two, But Trying Harder

A chart put together by the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers shows Oregon in second place in battery EV sales among states that follow California emission rules. Battery electric cars have 1.2 percent of the light-duty vehicle market in California, and nine tenths of one percent in Oregon. “We’re right behind,” Horvat said.

The state could perhaps do more to subsidize EV purchases. There’s currently no direct rebate, as there is in California. But Oregon offers a 25 percent tax credit for residents who buy EV chargers (up to $750), and businesses will get a 35 percent credit beginning in January. That same credit is available to companies that buy two or more alternative fuel vehicles.

But Portland, which has by far the most registrations per capita, can also boast about its Electric Avenue for downtown charging (on the Portland State campus). It’s in a lead position in Oregon, but the whole state is becoming EV-savvy. Thanks, in part, to its very own Chief EV Officer.

Comments

· · 35 weeks ago

"Oregon is hugely serious about electric cars. "

So, you can't pump your own gas in OR, but you can "pump" your own juice for Plugin cars... I am surprised the "unions of gas station attendants" haven't filed lawsuits or start protesting for plugin cars to take their jobs....

· · 35 weeks ago

So the Oregon Chief EV Officer is collecting a salary and pension doing what exactly?

· · 35 weeks ago

Hi

This is all very interesting. What I think it will take to get EV's off and running is to combine EV with Autonomous technology Cars can then find a charging spot anywhere close. Better yet we have a fleet of cars available to come and pick us up and drop us off at our destination. Autonomous cars (AEV).. are here now and will be offered to the public in 2020. This would be a real game changer for urban living

No parking spaces needed at either end of you trip!

· · 35 weeks ago

ModernMarvelFan: It's really not that big of a deal here... You can pump your own diesel too.

· · 34 weeks ago

Sorry Oregon, Vermont is right behind California with 1% of new car sales in Q3 of 2013 being plug in. Race you to 2%?

· · 34 weeks ago

So first off, installing anything other than a level 3 fast charging station (yes I know that technically it's not level 3 but you know what I mean) is a waste of money. I love my level 2 charger at home, I have no time for them anywhere else. As far as I'm concerned, they are useless. Quick chargers on the other hand allow me to use them for the most common occurrence: adding a bit more range on days where I have a few stops to make before I get home. This usually takes no more than 15 minutes on a quick charger, long enough to add 25 or so miles to my range. A level 2 charger would require that I plug in and then go find a movie to watch or a golf course to kill the time. Usually, I see zip cars or those small electric work trucks plugged in and they basically become a fixture at most level 2 locations so you can't use them anyway.

For a bit of history, my decision to buy a leaf wasn't political. It wasn't to show everyone that I was more of a tree-hugger than they were. It was basically about not giving money to the middle east and to avoid the $300 per month I spent on gas driving the 60 mile round trip commute to my workplace. My monthly payment on my leaf is around $90 and my monthly electric bill for charging is about $50. Without even considering oil changes and tune-ups that I no longer need, buying a leaf was a bit of a no-brainer. So, it was only on those occasions like I mention above where I needed to use a charger on the road. Things were good, but now that Blink has begun charging $5.00 per plug in at it's fast chargers guarantees that I won't be using them anymore. Charging $5.00 per 50 mile charge (or, as I stated earlier, 25 miles in my case) removes a large part of the savings benefit to owning a Leaf. My previous ICE vehicle got about 20 mpg, basically equivalent to spending 5 bucks for 25 miles of range. For electricity that only costs them 50 cents, they sure are charging a lot. Considering all the money they received from the government to install these, the fact that they are charging a 1000% markup on the electricity one gets from their charger seems a bit criminal..

· · 34 weeks ago

How bout you do a story on Illinois's EV coordinator at Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Kate Tomford. She does a ton for the EV scene in Illinois and her position was created (on top of her other duties on green economic development) in 2010.

She helped create an EV report to the state legislature on recommendations to support EV Adoption and helps run a monthly EV taskforce. She also helps with the DCEO EV Charging Station Rebate program that covers 50% of a charging station and install.

All info. Can be found here:

http://www.ildceo.net/dceo/Bureaus/Energy_Recycling/ev.htm

She's amazing!

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