Kitzhaber OKs electric vehicle push

Gov. John Kitzhaber's sign-off on pro-electric vehicle efforts marks a huge step for the industry.

Gov. John Kitzhaber's sign-off on pro-electric vehicle efforts marks a huge step for the industry.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has formalized his support of the state’s pro-electric vehicle efforts.

A memorandum of understanding that Kitzhaber signed Tuesday signals his further support for the new “Energizing Oregon” coalition that’s coordinating the state’s EV efforts.

State officials and such regional elected leaders as Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen want Oregon to remain one of the country’s top ten EV sales and charger installation markets.

The memorandum calls for Ashley Horvat, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s West Coast Electric Highway manager, to serve as the state’s lead on EV issues. The Drive Oregon group that backs alternative transportation modes, will further organize pro-EV efforts.

Kitzhaber signed the memorandum along with ODOT chief Matt Garrett and Drive Oregon’s Jeff Allen.

The Energizing Oregon initiative released goals late last year that call for the state to boost its plug-in electric vehicle counts. Some 1,610 were counted in the state last year.

Allen said taxpayers’ costs for the programs will be minimal. Much of the backing come arrive from grants and the private sector.

“Over the coming year, we will work closely together and focus particular energy on creating more opportunities for Oregonians to experience electric vehicles,” Allen said. “We’ll encourage employers to provide charging facilities for their employees and help more businesses and fleets add electric vehicles to their mix by developing creative financing strategies to overcome upfront cost barriers.”

The Portland Metro area has more chargers per capita than any other area, he added.

Kitzhaber’s office view EVs as a critical part of his 10-year Energy Action Plan.

In Horvat’s previous role, she oversaw the addition of charging stations on Oregon’s highways.

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