ENTERPRISE — It’s an electrifying concept: Vehicles that don’t need gasoline, that you can “fill up” at home, that don’t need oil changes and have so few moving mechanical parts that maintenance and repairs are almost things of the past.
They are electric vehicles (EVs). And they’re coming to Wallowa County. Or, at least, the facilities to fuel them are.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, Wallowa Resources and Forth, a Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to advancing electric, smart and shared transportation, presented a webinar about electric vehicles for Wallowa County. The hour-long session was full of information about tax incentives, fueling options, cost savings, and even where to buy electric vehicles, from ATVs to tractors, four-wheel-drive pickups to sporty sedans.
“We see EVs as another piece of the puzzle of keeping our energy dollars local and really driving community development goals through renewable energy,” said Matt King, Wallowa Resources Renewable Energy Program manager.
King stressed the opportunities to harness local energy sources, including micro-hydro and solar to produce the power for local residents’ electric vehicles.
In October, Wallowa Resources installed a Type 2 commercial Charging station outside its front door at 401 NE 1st Street in Enterprise. The cost of the installation was supported by Pacific Power. Since then, about a dozen EVs have “filled up” there.
“Anyone can show up with a credit card and charge their car here,” King said. “We think they’re finding us through some of the apps that show charging stations across the country.”
The cost to fill up an empty “tank” (aka, battery) at Wallowa Resources “station”? About 20 cents per KWh, King said.
“For plug-in hybrids, that’s with 8-12 KWh batteries, that’s a couple bucks. The fully electric vehicles, with bigger batteries, would be around 20 bucks to charge for about a 200- to 300-mile run,” he said.
Pacific Power’s EV cost savings calculator provides more specific figures at https://pacificpower.wattplan.com/ev/.
Although only seven EVs are registered to owners in Wallowa County, there are a growing number of places and options to “fill ‘er up” in the county, King said. Those include two commercial locations, one at Wallowa Resources, and another at Enterprise Electric that is not yet operational. In addition there are non-commercial Type 2 stations at Moonshine Glass and Cloverleaf Hall. Several lodging businesses, including Log House RV Park and Campground, Mountain View Motel and RV Park, the Bronze Antler and 5 Peaks RV Park in Joseph, Wallowa Lake State Park, and the Park at the River at Wallowa Lake Village offer Type 1 or Type 2 charging.
These are all Type 2 charging stations, the equivalent of plugging your EV into a 220-volt outlet at your house, with the capability of a full charge in several hours. Installing one in your home would cost between $800 and $2,000, King said. But most EV’s come with a kit that will plug into your 240 kW wall socket. Type 3 commercial charging stations, available along Interstate 84 including at the Baker City Supercharger at the Sunrise Inn, and Walmart in La Grande, can “fill up” a passenger EV in 20 to 30 minutes.
King said that the biggest use for EV’s in Wallowa County initially will probably be to “zip around” for local trips.
“A lot of people have a truck for work and a smaller vehicle for highway driving or quick trips to the grocery store. EV’s fit great into that situation,” he said.
But bigger things are on the horizon according to the webinar’s presentation. For 2021, Ford will offer a hybrid F150 pickup that combines a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission with an integrated 35-kW electric motor. An all-electric F150 is slated for 2023. Other manufacturers, including Rivian, General Motors and Tesla have electric trucks in the works for 2021 or later. Electric tractors are already working on farms. Electric UTVs (side-by-sides) and motorcycles are, too.
Wallowa Resources and Forth plan to offer a ride and drive tryout of a variety of EV’s here in Wallowa County in the spring or fall of 2021.
“Here in the county, the cost of transportation adds up,” said Wallowa Resources’ Community Solution, Inc. project-support specialist, Susan Badger-Jones. “Rural people care about the range. We want, we need 300 miles on a charge, and all-wheel drive. When we get those things, electric vehicles will be great, economical transportation for people in the county.”