In an effort to increase tourism in Roseburg, the City Council on Monday approved funding for four new electric vehicle charging stations in the city.
“The idea is to get tourists to plug in for free, but they know they’re going to have to be there quite a while to get a new charge, so meanwhile they can spend money here,” said David Reek, a local electric vehicle owner who helped the city acquire a grant from Pacific Power to fund the project in part.
As consumers continue looking reduce gas consumption, sales of electric vehicles are gradually rising, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an auto industry advocacy group. Additionally, more than 60 percent of electric vehicle sales in the U.S. have been in Oregon, Washington and California. In California and Oregon, 511,412 and 21,433 electric vehicles were sold between 2011 and 2018, according to the Alliance.
At their regular meeting, city councilors and city staff discussed the opportunity the stations create to draw in tourists driving up and down Interstate 5 through Roseburg.
Travel Oregon has a page online dedicated to showing electric vehicle owners where they can charge their cars as well as surrounding tourist activities.
“Staff looked at areas where we felt that tourists had a high likelihood of going, and/or areas where people could easily walk to other things if they were plugged in,” said Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley.
In February, the city was notified by Pacific Power of the $25,000 grant award to construct the stations. The city will provide another $25,000 from the hotel/motel tax fund, which is exclusively devoted to promoting tourism and has a current balance of about $300,000.
Christenson Electric Inc., a Portland-based company, quoted the city at $49,046 for four “level 2” stations. Each station will include two charging ports and charge most electric vehicles. The level 2 stations have “middle-of-the-road” charging power and will require multiple hours to fully charge a vehicle, said Community Development Director Stuart Cowie.
The charging stations will be located at the visitor’s center, the downtown parking garage, the Umpqua Valley Arts Association parking lot and the Roseburg Public Library. The city must have the charging stations complete by the end of 2019, according to the Pacific Power grant.
Cowie said the charging stations will be free, but the city will have the option to install a payment system for users of the charging stations. He said the cost to the city for the electricity would be negligible.
“Thirty-thousand cars per day go up and down Interstate 5,” Reek told city councilors. “And a couple percent of those are electric. So pretty soon you get to thousands of cars pretty quickly.”
Although some city councilors voiced their preference for traditional gas vehicles, there were no objections to the project.
“Before I make a motion I want to say that I was really prepared to dislike this, and I was disappointed when I couldn’t,” said City Council President Tom Ryan.