Electric Vehicle Charging Stations – Now
is the Time
By Jeff Gudman
Electric vehicles (EV) chargers have come to some public locations in the city, including City Hall, A Avenue and the Operations/Maintenance Center. There are also chargers in private locations in Lake Oswego. All part of recognizing the world is changing. While gas powered vehicles will be with us for many years to come, EV’s are an increasing percentage of vehicles in our city.
One of the first charging stations was installed on A Avenue, courtesy of Tesla. There was no “charging up” charge. The upside, an opportunity to recharge at no cost, even though it took a while to charge. The site has a Tesla proprietary charger and a SAE standard SAE J1772 charger but both are currently not working. As additional charging stations are being installed in public and private locations, city policies must evolve to meet changed circumstances.
First, there needs to be a recognition there are different usages of charging stations. When it comes to EV’s there are two types of chargers. They are, “slow” L2 charging and “fast” DCFC L3 charging. L2 charging is more of a local issue, L3 is more for state/federal highways. The trade-off is L2 charging stations are less expensive to install than L3 charging stations, but they are significantly slower in the time it takes to charge. A typical L2 charge takes about 8 hours to fully charge whereas a L3 charger typically takes 50 minutes or less to charge to 80%.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) got Oregon’s plans federally approved from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program (NEVI). The main NEVI compliance requirements are to have at least four 150+ kW chargers at each station which is to be located no further than 1 mile from the interstate or corridor and within 50 miles of the next station. EV drivers who travel distances well beyond their EV’s battery range, often experience anxiety finding an open and working chargers around interstates. ODOT is taking one small first step to fill in the I-5 “holes” mostly south of Eugene. There is a need and opportunity for Lake Oswego to start engaging now with ODOT on the next phase of L3 charger installations along the various I-5 freeway exits, like Boones Ferry Road, Carman Road and Kruse Way.
Under ODOT’s approved NEVI plan many deployment options exist. Oregon may or may not own the stations. Oregon will most likely contract out to have them installed, maintained, and billed to EV drivers for their usage. Electrify America and other companies are doing this type of work. Local planning now and working with the key EV partners on Lake Oswego’s plan is crucial.
Here are 5 Lake Oswego policy actions for publicly owned charging stations.
No free charging – everyone pays a fair price for L2 charging like Lake Oswego has been doing. But, currently on some city owned chargers after 2 hours of charging you have to pay for parking, regardless of how full your EV is.
No parking fees while actively charging– no parking fees increase accessibility and inclusion. There should be idle fees (connected but not charging) to maximize charger utilization.
Maintenance – the city is not doing as well as it can or should be – it is not uncommon to see City chargers broken and unavailable at sites like the LO maintenance center or the A Street location. This is not acceptable.
Lake Oswego funding strategy – Ideally, the capital dollars will come from the Federal government. Lake Oswego should focus its dollars on making sure L2 chargers are maintained/working, that is operating costs. For adding new L2 chargers, Lake Oswego should focus on installing in the public right of way to give access to everyone – especially those in multifamily housing.
Fees for idle (connected but not charging) is practical and financially sound. The idle fees should be significant enough (about $5 per hour) to keep charger utilization high and assist in funding new chargers.
Public chargers should be neutral between car manufacturers of EV’s. The city should not be in the business of selecting which EV companies to support. There is no distinction between gas/diesel powered vehicles when a person fills up. The same should apply for EV’s.
A first-rate quality of life requires a first-rate infrastructure.
Moving forward with EV charging infrastructure, public and private, is part of providing a high quality of life.
Jeff Gudman is a former member of the Lake Oswego City Council and the Republican candidate for state treasurer in 2016 and 2020.
He can be reached at JGudman7150@msn.com