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PGE Installs "Filling Station Of The Future"

By: Libby Tucker
Daily Journal Of Commerce
July 31, 2008


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Portland General Electric launched its demonstration project for plug-in hybrid cars on Tuesday with the unveiling of a new charging station design.

The utility envisions a day when “the filling station of the future” will make refueling easy, affordable and clean for Oregon drivers, said PGE’s vice president of customers and economic development Bill Nicholson.

The old charging station at PGE’s Portland headquarters has been replaced with a new, urban design that resembles a taller, shinier parking meter. A recycled tire atop the metal utility box, located at 121 S.W. Salmon St., is intended to grab attention while highlighting the sustainable promise of electric transportation.

The tire holds a frosted glass dome, inside which a compact-fluorescent bulb lights a cartoonish blue plug on a sign advertising the station’s electrical outlets. Like the old station, it contains four outlets to allow two cars to charge simultaneously at 120 Volts or 240 Volts.

“We wanted something sleek and modern but with a little reference to an older 1950s and ’60s era, back in the day when people didn’t hate going to the gas pump,” said Garrett Martin, a PGE research analyst on the project. “The leap forward in the ’50s was mobility; today it’s sustainability.”

The utility last month announced its intentions to launch a demonstration project to develop the transportation infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles. The project will also help the utility anticipate the demand plug-in cars might place on the region’s electric grid and design smart grid systems to support renewable power development.

The new charging station, designed by a PGE consultant and built by Portland-based Shorepower Technologies, is the first of 12 slated to be installed in Portland and Salem by September as part of the project. The new charging stations have the capacity to accept credit cards, but they’ll remain free during the demonstration project to encourage use and awareness among electric vehicle owners.

“We’re dispensing a fuel – it’s just electricity,” said Jeff Kim, president and CEO of Shorepower.
Companies participating in the demonstration project will pay about $2,500 for the stations and installation costs, and PGE will provide the power, said Nicholson. The machines are equipped with a meter so the utility will know exactly how much electricity the stations use each month. They’ll then offset that electricity use with renewable energy purchases, making the stations 100 percent powered by wind farms in Oregon and Washington.

So far, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Nike, Burgerville, Columbia Sportswear and the Marriott Hotel have signed on to install charging stations. Portland Office of Transportation, Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro are also providing space.

The new charging stations’ design and link to a futuristic notion of electric transportation will appeal to OMSI visitors, said Nancy Steuber, president of OMSI, which plans to install its station prominently in front of the museum.

“People will be interested, intrinsically,” she said.

PGE is also seeking partnerships with automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota Motor Corp., to insure the charging stations work with existing and future electric vehicle technologies. No major car manufacturers have yet released plug-in hybrid vehicles on a large scale, though plug-ins are already on the road as some hybrid owners have converted their cars to recharge on the grid.

Toyota is planning to release a plug-in Prius hybrid-electric car in 2010 and brought a prototype vehicle to Tuesday’s event.

“This is a smart charger, for smart cars in a smart city,” said Chris Hostetter, group vice president of advanced product strategy for Toyota.






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