Interstate 5 Will Soon Be An Electric Highway

Mar 19, 2012

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- It’s getting easier to take an electric car on a Northwest road-trip. As Amelia Templeton reports, I-5 is going electric.

There’s a Chevron station just off of I-5 in Central Point, Oregon. You can buy gas here. Its more than 4 dollars a gallon. Or you can plug in an electric car for free, and charge it in about 20 minutes. The Oregon Department of Transportation has just opened 8 charging stations like this one in Southern Oregon.

Neal Appleton brought his Nissan Leaf.

Appleton: “I’ve had it close to a year. Seven thousand miles and not one drop of gasoline.“

Appleton is from Grant's Pass. It’s a town with a more pick-up trucks than Priuses. But the all-electric Leaf works well for him.

Appleton: “I’m retired. And 90 percent of my driving is local driving, in town.”

The new charging stations along I-5 will help on longer drives. To visit the doctor, Appleton drives 60 miles round-trip. Now he doesn’t have to worry about losing his charge on the way home.

The Washington Department of Transportation is also in the process of installing charging stations. By the end of the year, you’ll be able to plug in at stops along I-5 from the California state line to the Canadian border.

Buel: “It’s going to be the nation’s largest network of charging.”

That’s Tonia Buel, with the Washington Department of Transportation. She’s in southern Oregon celebrating the opening of the electric highway. Buel hopes that the convenience of quick charge stations will convince more people to give electric cars a chance.

Buel: “The people that have electric vehicles now are early adopters. And this will actually give peace of mind to the more, the mass market, the next wave of electric vehicle owners.”

One final note: Drivers need a key fob or a swipe card to activate many of the new charging stations. In Oregon, you can get one by calling AreoVironment, the company that’s installed them.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network