Video: North America's First (or Second?) DC Quick Charging Station Opens to the Public

By · August 06, 2010

Portland Oregon DC Quick Charger

Yesterday, Portland General Electric, Oregon’s biggest utility company, in conjunction with NEC, held a ceremony to open what they're deeming "North America’s first public-use, quick-charge station for electric vehicles." The station was unveiled as part of a two day, Nissan LEAF ride and drive event.

The Takasago Rapid Charging station is built to the Japanese CHAdeMO DC fast charging standard and has a power output of up to 50kw. At that rate, you could get a Nissan LEAF charged from 0% to about 80% full in 20 minutes or so.

DC fast charging is such a new technology that there are multiple standards being worked on around the world, but the CHAdeMO standard has the benefit of being the first one to market. The Society of Automotive Engineers is also working on their own DC fast charging standards, but they may end up simply adopting the CHAdeMO standard in the end because of its expected rapid proliferation as utilities and governments race to build them over the next year in lieu of having anything from SAE.

Portland General Electric and NEC Corp. open what they're calling "North America's first" public use electric car DC quick charger. But are they really first?

So, Who's The Actual King of Quick Charging?

Some of the more astute readers among us may remember that our sister site, HybridCars.com, published an article earlier this year about Vacaville, California, getting the "first public electric car rapid charger in the U.S." So who's actually able to claim the title, Vacaville or Portland?

A spokesperson from Portland General Electric explained that they are aware of Vacaville's DC Quick Charging station, but that, to their knowledge, that station has not yet been certified by the state for public use, and therefore is not yet open to the public—which they feel allows PGE and the City of Portland to claim the title of North America's first public quick charger.

But Ed Huestis, the former transportation systems manager for the City of Vacaville, begs to differ. "Yes, Vacaville's DC Quick Charger is "public use" and was the first such charger installed in the nation," said Ed in an email. "I just checked with my contact at Pacific Gas & Electric as well. He confirms that in talking with Anagawa-san from TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), that we were the first publicly accessible DC fast charger in the nation. We went operational in April of this year and to date have been charging Mitsubishi i-MiEVs and Nissan LEAFs doing testing in the area."

The Portland station was awarded public-use certification by the City of Portland after it had been installed and tested. It was built by Takasago Ltd., a subsidiary of NEC, at the PGE headquarters in the Two World Trade Center parking garage located at 121 SW Salmon St, Portland, Oregon.

In many ways, it's kind of cool that we've now gotten to the point where two cities are duking it out over who got the first DC fast charging station. In reality both cities deserve major kudos for their accomplishments, and I hope that they can sort it out amicably. Besides, by this time next year, we'll have so many of these things dotting the landscape that it won't even matter any more.

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