Portland City Council unanimously adopts electric vehicle strategy

Cross-posted from Business Journal 14 Dec 2016

The Portland City Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted an electric vehicle strategy.

The plan is nothing if not comprehensive: Its 49 action items include establishing “electric first” guidelines for city fleet purchases, prioritizing charging infrastructure in public locations and calling for “EV-ready provisions” in the city’s green building policy for affordable housing.

And when Portland talks about electric vehicles, it’s not just talking about cars.

The city also intends to explore electrifying aspects of the city’s Biketown bike-share program, accommodating e-bikes on transit and looking for “opportunities to integrate e-bike charging infrastructure in to the city’s bike parking code.”

It all adds up to hitting these goals by the end of 2020, according to the city:

  • Replace at least 10,000 gas- or diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles in Multnomah County.
  • Increase access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure by doubling the number of Level 2 and DC Fast Chargers available to the public.
  • Increase access to affordable electric vehicle transportation options for low-income populations and communities of color.
  • Maximize the air quality and cost savings benefits of electric vehicles for low-income populations and communities of color.
  • Add 60 electric vehicles to the city’s sedan fleet to increase the percentage of electric vehicles from 20 to 30 percent. Seek options to electrify other classes of vehicles in the city’s fleet.
  • Prioritize the electrification of shared use vehicles. bikes and buses to reduce the need for personal vehicle ownership.
  • Encourage the electrification of automated vehicles to improve safety and mobility options for people who don’t drive.

Before the vote, a parade of witnesses, from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, spoke in favor of the policy.

Portland General Electric Business Development Director Charlie Allcockcaptured the general sentiment, lauding the city for “calling upon many city bureaus to work with community counterparts to make this vision come to reality.”

There was one amendment offered to the resolution accepting the strategy, from Commissioner Amanda Fritz. Adopted unanimously, it added the directive that bureaus implement the strategy “as binding city policy,” which the Council saw as adding “heft” to the strategy directive, as Mayor Charlie Hales put it.

Here’s the city’s full 2017 Electric Vehicle Strategy.

The Council on Wednesday also finalized passage, as expected, of two other sustainability-related measures: a home-energy score requirement (see our earlier story here) and a measure restricting new bulk fossil-fuel infrastructure, which we covered here.