Electric cars get fresh jolt in rural Oregon

Have you seen this story in the East Oregonian? We love it! Learn more about new EV charging stations in Heppner, Ione, Condon and Fossil, Oregon and how they’re helping connect communities and ease range anxiety.

“It takes a lot of miles behind the wheel to reach some of Eastern Oregon’s most breathtaking sights, like the John Day Fossil Beds or Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.

That can be a problem for drivers of electric cars, who risk being stranded if there isn’t a charging station available for long trips. The phenomenon, known as range anxiety, might discourage some travelers from hitting the road to explore remote destinations across the state.

In order to draw more visitors to the area and overcome that anxiety, the Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative has installed four new electric vehicle charging stations in Heppner, Ione, Condon and Fossil. Each station is capable of charging two vehicles at a time, and is located close to shops and services in town.

“So far, we’ve had a lot of really good support from all the communities,” said Debbie Lankford, staff accountant with the co-op. “They’ve been very excited about it.”

Lankford said the co-op board was interested in doing a renewable energy-based project earlier this year, and voted to invest in electric charging stations in May. The total project came in at $56,074, though they secured more than $16,000 in tax credits from the Oregon Department of Energy and another $10,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from local chambers, city councils and county courts.

That brought the cost down to $7,410 per unit. Stations will be serviced through a five-year contract with Charge Point, a vendor based in Portland.

“Our motivation was to be kind of a pioneer for this,” Lankford said.

Stations are located in Ione near the city park; in Heppner at the library on North Main Street; in Condon outside the co-op offices on South Main Street; and in Fossil near the Wheeler County Fairgrounds. Public charging stations can also be found in Arlington, Mitchell, Dayville, John Day and Prairie City, according to PlugShare.

The chargers will be promoted by Travel Oregon and Drive Oregon, Lankford added.

“It is our hope that by installing these four stations, we will help in some way with the connectivity of the east side of the state for electric car owners,” the co-op recently announced. “It will provide another location for them to charge while heading east.”