- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - Drivers have more places to charge electric cars in the Pacific Northwest as part of an effort to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on roads in eight states.

The Oregon portion of the West Coast Electric Highway was completed in March with the installation of the 44th charging station along Interstate 5 from Portland south to Ashland, the Mail Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1OrWaHW ).

Most users pay about $20 each month to use the stations.

“The overall goals of the program were to contribute to carbon reduction and energy independence by going from importing fossil fuels to using energy generated on the grid in Oregon and keeping those dollars locally,” said ODOT senior project executive Art James. “I’ve been very pleased with that.

The electric highway extends into Washington and California. The Oregon stations were funded by $4.25 million in federal energy and transportation grants, with the bulk of the funding coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Each one varied, but it averaged out at about $100,000 per installation,” James says.

Six East Coast states have joined Oregon and California in the effort to increase the prevalence of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicle registrations with Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services more than doubled from July 2013 to the same month last year, topping 4,200.

Rogue Valley Clean Cities board member John Becker is a retired air quality manager for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. He drives a battery-powered Ford Focus, but says a lack of charging stations could deter other drivers from similar vehicles.

“I think right now the range anxiety and the cost is keeping some people from buying the (electric) car,” he said. “But long-term, as used ones come on the market and people become more comfortable with the technology, more people will begin to see the benefit.”

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Information from: Mail Tribune, https://www.mailtribune.com/

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