Drive Oregon’s January Networking Event – Oregon Utilities & Transportation Electrification

(January 27, 2017) – Last week, Drive Oregon kicked off our 2017 monthly networking event series. Representatives were invited from Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power, Oregon’s two largest utilities, to speak about their plans to accelerate transportation electrification in the state.

Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Drive Oregon, provided a brief background of the motivation behind PGE & Pacific Power’s transportation electrification plans – Senate Bill 1547, also known as the “Clean Energy Bill.” The findings of S.B. 1547 state that transportation electrification is necessary for Oregon to meet air quality standards, achieve optimum levels of energy efficiency and meet Oregon’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The key mandate states that “The Public Utility Commission shall direct each electric company to file applications, in a form and manner prescribed by the commission, for programs to accelerate transportation electrification.” Governor Brown signed S.B. 1547 into law in March 2016, and PGE and Pacific Power had nine months to develop their respective plans before submitting them to the Public Utility Commission in December. 

Aaron Milano, Project Manager of Customer Energy Solutions, shared PGE’s proposed programs, designed with the goals of supporting and promoting customer acquisition of electric vehicles, and ensuring a reliable, accessible charging network. Transportation electrification, Aaron explained, will benefit all PGE customers by improving air quality, reducing operating costs, integrating renewable energy into the grid and mitigating the pressure on electricity rates. PGE’s plan consists of four pilot programs:

  • Outreach & Technical Assistance – PGE will engage in a variety of outreach strategies to address the lack of awareness around electric vehicles, which PGE has identified as the greatest barrier to electric vehicle adoption.
  • Mass Transit 2.0 – PGE proposes to own the charging stations for TriMet’s four electric buses, purchased with federal grant funding. PGE’s contribution to the project would enable TriMet to purchase a fifth electric bus.
  • Community Charging Infrastructure – PGE will build upon the success of the Electric Avenue site in downtown Portland and establish an Electric Avenue network of six new charging sites across the city, with four offering DC Fast charging. PGE has inherited chargers from Blink and Powin and plans on incorporating them into the network as well.
  • Research & Development –The expansion of PGE’s Research and Development program will include evaluating vehicle to grid technology and applications with the goal of integrating renewable energy and meeting their customers’ needs. In addition, two pilot programs are proposed: a workplace charging pilot project and a pilot program working with organizations to provide underserved communities with greater access to electric transportation.

Aaron reminded the audience that we are all partners in transportation electrification – the utilities, local and state governments and nonprofit organizations – and that advancing transportation electrification will be a joint effort.

Aaron Milano’s presentation can be viewed here:

 

Pacific Power is committed to transportation electrification, Eli Morris, Customer Solutions Manager, explained. To date, they are a Workplace Charging Challenge partner, have committed to investing 5% of their annual fleet replacement budget in plug-in technologies and are working with Drive Oregon to test used electric vehicles as an affordable option to low- and moderate-income drivers, among other initiatives. Pacific Power’s transportation electrification plan is comprised of three pilot programs and a new rate schedule for DC fast charging, which will give the utility information about how to best serve its customers and design future programs. Pacific Power and PGE have very different service territories, thus they will have different strategies and implementation plans. Pacific Power’s territory covers a small area of north and northeast Portland and large parts of southern and eastern Oregon, while PGE’s territory is concentrated in the greater Portland-metro area.

  • Outreach and Education – Pacific Power will focus on building awareness, providing technical assistance and building community partnerships.
  • Demonstration and Development –  Pacific Power will engage with non-residential customers through an application process in which applicants propose electric transportation infrastructure projects, which will be funded and completed by Pacific Power.
  • Public Charging – Pacific Power will install DC Fast Chargers following an extensive siting process to identify convenient locations for Pacific Power customers.
  • Public DC Fast Charging Transitional Rate – Pacific Power also proposed a new optional transitional rate for electric vehicle DC fast chargers that replaces demand charges with on-peak energy charges. This is designed to address challenges with the utility’s current rate schedule, which can make owning and operating a DC fast charger prohibitively expensive in some areas.

Eli also announced that Pacific Power was recently awarded a $3.9 million Department of Energy grant to accelerate electric vehicle adoption. The majority of this funding is earmarked for developing electric highway corridors in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, which will allow these corridors to be connected with highway corridors in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon, thus expanding the DC Fast charging network in the western states. Funding will also be reserved for investing in smart mobility options, fleet conversion, and home and workplace charging incentives. In addition, the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition and Drive Oregon are to receive funding for outreach and education in Pacific Power territory.

Eli Morris’ presentation can be viewed here: 

The next steps for both Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are to receive approval from the Public Utility Commission. A hearing to determine the procedural schedules for reviewing proposals is scheduled for February 3, 2017. Drive Oregon will be participating in the proposal review process and encourages Drive Oregon members and partners who would like to get involved to contact Jeanette Shaw, Director of Government Relations.