An electric vehicle charging station could soon exist every 50 miles on some of Oregon’s main highways. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Friday it would direct $100 million over the next five years to growing a network of charging stations for cars, trucks and SUVs. Some will charge even medium-duty vehicles such as delivery vans. Electric vehicles built before 2016 have an average range of 100 miles on a single charge and today, get an average of about 250 miles, according to the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis.  

The state Transportation Department itself won’t be in charge of installing or operating the stations, but will contract with private companies to build them, according to a press release. 

The money comes from a mix of federal and state funds, but the bulk of it comes from the 2021 federal infrastructure bill. 

Of the $100 million, about two-thirds will go to building charging stations every 50 miles on seven major corridors. Those include Interstates 5, 84 and 82, U.S. Highway 26, U.S. Highway 101, U.S. Highway 20, and U.S. Highway 97. Each charging station will have at least four ports, and be built so that more can be added over time. 

There aren’t yet estimates for how stations will be built because costs vary depending on the type of charger and where they are installed, according to Matt Noble a public affairs specialist at the state Transportation Department. 

“We’re confident that this $100 million investment will be able to build a backbone network every 50 miles across the seven corridors,” he wrote in an email.

About $36 million will go to building out charging infrastructure in rural areas and cities, especially at apartment complexes. Noble said the department will meet with stakeholder groups during the next two years to figure out what needs are and where the stations would be best located in rural and urban areas. 

The state Transportation Department set a goal in 2021 of tripling the number of electric vehicles in Oregon by the end of 2023, and of expanding the statewide electric vehicle charging network in the state 10% by 2025. There are currently about 2,100 electric vehicle charging stations in Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Energy.

The Transportation Department will be going after billions of dollars in federal grants for additional charging infrastructure that will work for heavy-duty electric vehicles such as commercial trucks and buses, according to the department’s press release.

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post. She previously worked in Iceland and Qatar and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain where she earned a master's degree in digital media. She's been a kayaking guide in Alaska, farmed on four continents and worked the night shift at several bakeries to support her reporting along the way.