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Portland, Oregon advances electric charging stations for commercial trucks

Portland, OR

With the trucking industry increasing electric vehicle adoption, there is a need for scalable charging infrastructure. Portland General Electric built a first-of-its-kind public charging station that will serve as a testing and innovation location to improve how vehicle charging impacts electricity grids.

Topics Covered

Energy Efficiency
Renewables
Energy Disruptions

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Problem Addressed

Portland wanted to further the development of electric charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles and trucks to make the transition to electrified vehicles easier and enhance sustainability.

As one of the nation’s most environmentally progressive cities, Portland is consistently on the frontline of building new projects to increase sustainability and address climate change.

With the world becoming more cognizant of the negative impact cars have on the environment, evolving technology and government mandates have led manufacturers to produce vehicles that have a reduced carbon footprint and are powered by electricity. Noting the impact electric vehicles could have on reducing Oregon’s emissions, Portland General Electric (PGE) supported the electrification of schools buses, public transportation, and its own vehicle fleet.

A large piece of the puzzle in replacing gas or diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles is finding efficient methods of charging, and making them scalable. To make it practical for residents who owned electric vehicles, PGE invested in programs that expanded charging infrastructure in the city.

Despite the prevalence of charging infrastructure for passenger cars and trucks, the rollout of charging infrastructure for commercial trucks and vehicles moved more slowly. Batteries meant to haul 80,000 pounds charge on a scale different from those in passenger cars, and the power they draw from power grids is substantially different as well. It became clear that there was an urgent need for test sites that would support research into how vehicles like commercial trucks would impact power grids and give industry leaders space to test new technology.

Already involved in expanding its own charging infrastructure, PGE needed to find a scalable solution to incorporate charging for commercial trucks as well.

Solutions Used

Portland is now leading the way to a more sustainable future with a zero-emission site dedicated to the development and testing of electric charging for commercial vehicles and trucks.

Seeing an opportunity to support the growth of the green economy and lead the way in the transition to a low-carbon future, Portland General Electric teamed with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to build Electric Island.

Electric Island is a first-of-its-kind public charging station specially designed for medium and heavy-duty electric commercial trucks. Located in Portland, Oregon, the project’s goal is to prove the scalability of high-power charging infrastructure. Built by Black & Veatch, the site – and all vehicle charging – will be powered with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to featuring nine charging stations, the site also will serve as a testing and innovation location, with plans to add on-site energy storage, solar power generation, and a product and technology showcase building. As the hotbed of electric charging innovation, PGE plans for the site to feature chargers capable of up to 1 megawatt of charging capacity—over four times faster than today’s top light-duty vehicle charger.

The difference in using a charger capable of a 1-megawatt charging capacity is massive. Delivery drivers can recharge a vehicle in 20 minutes instead of it taking hours. With the population of electric trucks on the rise, fast charging times are integral to scaling charging infrastructure at a meaningful rate. As the automotive industry accelerates the delivery of electrified truck models, collaborative research at the site will address the nexus of electrified trucks and the grid while creating opportunities for tomorrow’s EV drivers and utility customers. Lessons learned at the site will help industry leaders discover and learn to mitigate the impact on the grid as multiple trucks charge, as well as even send power from the vehicles back to the grid if needed.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler applauded Portland General Electric and Daimler Trucks North America for their partnership, saying “It's essential that we focus on opportunities to support the growth of the green economy and lead the way on a just transition to a low-carbon future. Electric Island is a great example of the kind of collaboration and innovation we need to do so."

With the blueprint laid out by Electric Island, other utilities can take the initiative to build similar charging stations in their own jurisdictions to reduce the carbon footprint of trucking. Rustam Kocher, PGE’s Transportation Electrification Team Manager put it this way, “We had to build this [Electric Island] so people could see it was a possibility, and so others could emulate us in building that infrastructure.”

Outcomes

1

PGE found a scalable way to provide charging infrastructure for commercial trucks and lead the way to a low-carbon future

2

Electric Island will stand as a blueprint for other utilities to build similar charging stations across the country

3

Through the site, PGE will have a testing ground for studying impacts to the energy grid from commercial truck charging

4

As a zero-emitter, Electric Island stands as an environmentally-focused contribution to reducing the carbon footprint of the trucking industry

5

PGE will find better, more efficient charging solutions for all-electric vehicles through discoveries at Electric Island

Something Unique

Electric Island earned an honorable mention in the sustainability category of Fast Company magazine’s 2021 “Innovation by Design” awards

Who Should Consider

Utilities interested in addressing climate change through the advancement of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Last Updated

Apr 21st, 2022
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