Portland, Ore., Rose Quarter Brings Electric Buzz

The parking garage at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore., will unveil 10 electric vehicle charging stations this Friday

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: March 29, 2012

New EV charging stations in the parking structure at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore. (Photo Credit: Ryan Prouty/Portland Trail Blazers)

The Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore., is maintaining a ‘green’ buzz of electric energy with the installation of 10 electric vehicle charging stations in its parking garage. The move will make the Rose Garden, which is already the first existing professional sports venue in the world to receive LEED Gold Certification, the largest site for electric vehicle charging in the Portland metro area.

Portland-based company Christenson Electric did the installation of the ECOtality level-2 Blink EV charging stations.

According to Mark Walter, president of Christenson Electric, the cost of charging stations varies dramatically depending on the infrastructure of the facility. “Everything comes into play, from the location of the installation to the number of charging stations,” said Walter.

“If every station was set right next to an electrical panel it would be easy, but most parking structures aren’t necessarily set up to handle large electrical installations; they’re set up for parking,” said Walter. In some instances, the company has to install conduit, drill through concrete or even bring in extra power.

“If a venue is going to put in five charging stations, they’re probably looking at tens of thousands of dollars as opposed to thousands,” said Walter. That cost would cover installation and acquisition of the EV charging stations themselves. However, Walter noted that Christenson Electric comes in and does an individual, no-cost investigation for each facility and can provide a range of options to work within different budgets.

Chis Oxley, GM of the Rose Quarter, said that Portland is the ideal place for these green initiatives.

“Electric vehicles and hybrids are extremely popular within our community so providing these stations is another way to connect to the desires and values of the people we serve,” said Oxley. “We’re still a very discretionary business and the more that we can do to align our mission and our values with our customers is the right thing to do for our business.”

In order to incentivize people to utilize the new spaces, charging an electric vehicle will be free for the first 90 days. “After 90 days there will be a $1 or $2 charge per hour to plug in and charge while you’re at an event, so it’s a pretty nominal fee,” said Oxley.

Another way the venue is promoting these spaces is by allowing the first electric vehicle that comes in the parking garage to park free. Usually, parking is $8 to $15, varying by event. Whether or not the free parking promotion will last beyond the 90-day period is up for discussion.

Walter said that Christenson Electric has a long relationship with the Rose Quarter and introduced the venue to ECOtality.

“ECOtality has a contract with the state of Oregon to install a lot of these charging stations, so they’re looking for public areas to use,” said Walter.

The agreement is called the EV Project, allowing the stations to be available to commercial spaces in a predefined area for no cost. The project's total value is approximately $230 million. The EV Project exchanges electric vehicle supply equipment and, in some cases, up to a $1,200 installation credit, for data. No personal information is revealed, but data from the vehicle being charged and the operation of the charger itself is collected.

See more information on the EV Project, and how to get involved or sign up, at the EV Project website.

According to ECOtality Pacific Northwest Regional Manager Rich Feldman, the Blink charging stations at the Rose Quarter are part of the EV Project. Without EV Project funds, the charging stations cost $1,295 for the commercial pedestals, not including installation costs. Retail for Blink Pedestals is $2,995, or $2,095 for Blink commercial wall mounts.

“The electric vehicle charging station sort of fell into line with the sustainability initiatives at the Rose Quarter,” said Walter, whose company was compensated by ECOtality for the installation.

Christenson Electric is a Portland-based company. “It’s always important to use as many local suppliers as possible; it’s even part of our business plan from a purchasing perspective,” said Oxley. “We have a lot of local partners, and Christenson Electric has been a longtime partner of ours who even helped make this opportunity available.”

Before the current installation, the Rose Quarter had two EV charging stations available that were installed in-house.

“They weren’t the pay-type stations that you’re going to see in a lot of areas,” said Oxley. “As technology of the vehicles has changed the desire to plug in and have a quick charging turnaround, so the technology has to improve.”

The new Level 2 EVSE Blink Pedestals are designed to run more than 10,000 charge cycles; they also have a touch-screen display and can send status messages to smart phones notifying the user when the charge is complete.

Interviewed for this story: Rich Feldman, (206) 707-8249; Chris Oxley, (503) 797-9600; Mark Walter, (503) 419-3300

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: March 29, 2012