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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why EVs Are Perfect for Oregon - Reason 3: Abundant clean electricity

Electricity is cheap here in Oregon. Electricity is generally about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and it is usually on a flat rate, so you don't have to worry about peak times. If you opt-in for a time-of-use program, you can pay less than 5 cents per kWh during off-peak times.

Oregon has 21 hydroelectric power plants. Most of them are on the Columbia River watershed. The Columbia River Gorge is also a growing source of wind power for the state. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon is one of the largest wind farms in the world and began operation in September 2012. It is generating up to 845 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 235,000 U.S. homes.

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm was brought online late in 2012, so we'll see even more wind power in 2013.

Oregon has just one coal-fired power plant, in the city of Boardman, and it is scheduled for shutdown in 2020. If Portland General Electric wanted to keep it open longer, the plant would need $500 million of pollution control upgrades by 2017 to comply with clean air standards. Instead, it is cheaper to expand nearby wind energy projects and the natural gas generation already at the Boardman site.

So as green as Oregon's grid is already, it will continue to get cleaner. EVs don't have any direct emissions; however, the electricity source used to charge them can. The Union of Concerned Scientists conducted a study to look at the emissions related to EV driving compared to conventional cars. They found that even on the worst electricity grids in the US, EVs generate less emissions than the average gas car and that in nearly half the country, EVs generate less emissions than a hybrid. Oregon, with our our mostly clean electricity generation sources, was one of the many states in this best category.

Additionally, as I have discussed in other articles, EVs represent a potentially tunable demand load and energy storage system. These attributes mean that the presence of EVs can will help the local grid better adapt to intermittent energy sources such wind.

Why EVs are great for Oregon:

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