Feds commit to Oregon's EV development efforts

Ashley Horvat, Oregon's chief electric vehicle officer, believes federal money will arrive in more regular increments to help boost the state's EV programs.

Ashley Horvat, Oregon's chief electric vehicle officer, believes federal money will arrive in more regular increments to help boost the state's EV programs.

The Oregon region’s top Federal Highway Administration official said Wednesday that the state’s electric vehicle program merits top-level governmental backing.

Phil Ditzler, in a speech at the EV Roadmap 6 conference, affirmed that recent federal legislation that included efforts to more broadly back electric vehicle usage and nurturing of the auto and charger manufacturing industries would bring more support to Oregon’s programs.

Generally, Oregon’s EV efforts include work on the West Coast Electric Highway as well as plans to install chargers throughout the state.

The FHWA had previously backed the state’s efforts through such grants as the $3 million-plus TIGER II award in 2011 that allowed Oregon to bolster its EV-related strategies. The money aimed to help the state install 33 EV fast-charging stations along what’ll become the West Coast Electric Highway.

Ditzler’s announcement could mean that Oregon can count on more regular sources of federal money, perhaps from dedicated funds as opposed to one-time grants, down the road. However, he didn’t indicate how much money the program would merit.

“We’ll know more in the next few months,” said Ashley Horvat, the state’s chief electric vehicle officer. “That’s when they’ll decide internally, in the (federal) agency, what that actually means. We’re waiting to hear what the level would be. Ideally, it would be an ongoing, recurring program that’s returning every year. It may not be as much as the (TIGER II grant) we got, but it would probably be more focused.”

And it will likely mean, in the long run, that Oregon will get support for workplace programs, signage, various pilot projects, EV integration and electric vehicle tourism.

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