PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – There are new options for people who drive electric vehicles along I-5 as Oregon just finished the first phase of upgrades to the West Coast Electric Highway.

While Phase One focused primarily on updating the state’s existing 44 charging stations – KOIN 6 News was told these changes will increase access, speed up charging times, and lower the cost – not only for your wallet – but also the environment. 

Leadership with ODOT, the Oregon Transportation Commission, and EV Charging Solutions met with the governor Tuesday to celebrate upgrades to the West Coast Electric Highway – a network of EV charging stations which span from British Columbia to California.

Using the Woodburn station as an example, demonstrators showed the ease and speed at which the upgraded stations can charge an electric car or e-bike.

The governor told KOIN 6 News, she hopes this effort to increase the accessibility and affordability of EV charging will help the state address the growing climate crisis.

“It is so critically important that we take action now to tackle climate change. Future generations are going to judge us not on the fact of climate change, but what we do to tackle it, and Oregon along with our west coast partners are leading the way,” Governor Kate Brown said.

EV Charging Solutions told KOIN 6 News, to fully charge a car at a station would cost the owner an average of about $35.

ODOT told KOIN 6 News, without these charging infrastructure investments, it would be difficult to entice new drivers to use EVs and lower overall emissions.

“EVs are now a great new option that allows us to make a dent into the greenhouse gas emissions that we know transportation contributes to. Let’s face it, our role is to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent we can, but we can’t do it alone,” ODOT Director Kris Strickler said.

With Phase One complete, phase Two is slated to begin this summer – including the conversion of 11 “superstations” with even faster charging speeds.

Phase Three will begin late summer with the addition of three new EV stations – increasing the state total to 47 by the end of the year.