Portland State’s Electric Avenue to unplug to make way for business school construction
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: June 1, 2015

Electric Avenue, a one-block area of free vehicle charging stations in the heart of Portland State University (PSU), will be dismantled in June to make way for construction of a new School of Business Administration building.

The seven charging stations located on Montgomery Street between 6th Ave. and Broadway, will be removed on June 24. The $60 million construction and remodel of the School of Business Administration, is scheduled for late summer.

Electric Avenue opened in August 2011 as a joint research venture between PSU, Portland General Electric (PGE) and the City of Portland as part of their shared interest in sustainable transportation. The intent was to gauge the user habits of drivers of electric vehicles, or EVs. It had different types of chargers from different manufacturers, and chargers were replaced over the years to make way for newer, more technologically advanced models. Researchers wanted to know which ones got the most use, who’s plugging in and what they do while their car is charging.

PGE is working on plans to relocate Electric Avenue, according to Jim Piro, PGE president and chief executive officer.

“PGE’s partnership with Portland State University and the City of Portland on Electric Avenue is a great example of how we’re helping lead the charge for electric vehicle adoption in Oregon,” said Piro. “Projects like this provide the important charging infrastructure that supports more sustainable transportation options for Oregonians.”

Research findings from Electronic Avenue’s nearly four years of operation shed light on driver behavior, which will help urban planners, utilities and car companies plan for the growing presence of electric vehicles, according to John MacArthur, a manager of the project at the Transportation Research and Education Center at PSU. At the time Electric Avenue opened, Oregon had about 500 electric cars on the road. By the time it closes, that number is expected to be about 6,000, MacArthur said. During that same period, Oregon went from having very few publicly available charging stations to more than 850 today, he added.

Originally intended as a two-year research project, it was extended because of its popularity and the opportunity it gave to test new chargers.

“It became vital as a charging node in Portland – one of the only places where you could charge your car in a public right of way,” MacArthur said, noting that use increased every year of its operation.

“During its operation, the site used almost 400,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. That represents nearly a million miles of tail pipe-free emissions and a reduction of approximately 540,000 pounds of CO2,” he said.

PSU students, faculty, staff and guests who drive electric vehicles to campus will have access to two charging stations at PSU Parking Structure 1 and two stations at the PSU Market Center Building. PSU Transportation & Parking Services will monitor the use of these spaces and may add more stations in the future to meet demand. Meanwhile, PGE and the City are actively looking at other sites around Portland for placing more charging units, MacArthur said.

The partners would like to thank the charging station suppliers (Bosch, Clipper Creek, Eaton, GE, Kanematsu, Opconnect, Powin, Shorepower, SPX), Oregon Electric Vehicle Association, Drive Oregon, automotive companies and all the EV drivers that used Electric Avenue over the years.