EV charging stations power up Downtown Eugene

EV charging stations power up Downtown Eugene »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - The silence is deafening as Kirk Gebb is looking for a fillup for his Nissan Leaf, but this isn't your usual service station.

No gas pumps here in the downtown Parcade at 8th and Willamette - just 6 new charging stations for electric vehicles.

"We've finally got our electric vehicle charging units installed here," said Jeff Petry, Eugene Parking Services Manager, "and we're starting to roll it out across the city's parking system."

EV owners pay monthly fees to a company called the Blink Network to charge up. The Oregon Department of Transportation counts nearly 1,200 electric cars registered in the state, including 78 in Eugene-Springfield.

The units come at no cost to the city. The equipment and installation is paid for by The EV Project, with federal and private grants.

"It actually came together for a $200 million project to install these all over the country," Petry said. "It's a study, it's a pilot."

How much will these chargers actually be used by the public? According to an EV needs survey by the city, the use could be quite a bit.

"I think in our community people will want to use these electric vehicles. They're quiet," Petry said.

EV owner Gebb greets the city's progress on charging stations with great enthusiasm. "This is great, and hopefully in the next few weeks these positions here will change and we'll see like, Volts and Priuses."

At the Broadway South garage, crews are installing the conduit and wiring for two more stations. Soon the number of EV chargers on city property will hit 16.

"If we see the demand, we'll absolutely do it," Petry said. "It's the right thing to do."

Petry said now the challenge is to get fuel drivers to see the no parking signs in the Parcade. The city will hand out warnings and pamphlets before resorting to tickets if fuel cars are parked in EV spots.