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Sustainable Industries: Oregon plugs into EV fast track
Author: By Lauren Sigel
Posted: August 15, 2010

Portland's City Council this summer unanimously passed a resolution to enact a first-in-the-nation plan to help increase the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the city.
The plan includes supportive city policies aimed at increasing the adoption of EVs, such as streamlined electrical permitting, providing limited use of the right-of-way for EV charging and creating the most "sustainable municipal fleet in the country."
The approved proposal, "Electric Vehicles: The Portland Way," addresses pieces of the city's Climate Action Plan, passed in 2009. The plan says in order for Portland to meet emission-reduction goals by 2030, 13 percent of all non-commercial vehicle miles traveled on the city's roads will need to be in electric vehicles. It also recommends that 20 percent of Portland's 2,800-vehicle fleet become electric.
One component of the proposal is to continue to look for ways to partner with the private sector to support EV infrastructure development. The city is working with partners such as the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, Portland State University, and local utilities in exploring best practices for prioritizing EVs in the transportation system, and will work with educational institutions such as Portland State University to explore innovative infrastructure deployment within the central city.
The city of Portland is a natural partner for a public-private partnership, says Trevor Steele, director of government relations for Eugene-based EV manufacturer Arcimoto.
"As we start exploring testing EVs for different uses, Portland is a natural choice for us given its size, geography, and the way the city is built," Steele says. "Also, as a city with a large municipal fleet that wishes to integrate EV technology into that fleet, it provides a natural opportunity for the application and adoption of EV technology and is very helpful from an economical perspective."
It's a smart move for the city to take leadership and aggressively put EV incentives in place, not only for the environmental benefits but from an investor's standpoint as well, says Diane Fraiman, a partner at Voyager Capital, a venture capital firm with offices in Portland, Seattle and Silicon Valley. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," she says. "It's not just
the vehicle itself that presents investment opportunities. There are batteries, charging stations, seat warmers; all of these are areas for innovations and attract investing.