IBEW 48 union hall gets electric vehicle charging stations

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici plugged in the first electric car at a charging station at the IBEW Local 48 union hall in Northeast Portland.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48 and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) unveiled nine new electrical vehicle charging stations at their union hall and training center on Northeast Airport Way in Portland.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici had the honor of charging the first electric car — Local 48’s own Chevy Volt — following a press conference April 11.

Also speaking at the unveiling were Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Oregon’s First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Carol Dillin, vice president of customer strategies and business development at Portland General Electric, and Jeff Allen, executive director of Drive Oregon.

“This is one more example of how NECA-IBEW continues to bring the latest electrical technologies to the Portland area,” said IBEW Local 48 Business Manager Clif Davis. “From electric vehicles to wind power and more, our members have the training to make it happen.”

The charging stations — which are open to the public — were installed by NECA contractor Christenson Electric. Some of the funding for the project came from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sutley, who is President Obama’s principal environmental adviser, said the new charging stations highlight the president’s “all-of-the-above energy approach that doubles down on clean energy to reduce pollution, increase our nation’s energy security, and create American jobs.”

Sutley said the Obama Administration has invested more than $2 billion in advanced vehicle technologies, and has proposed new fuel economy standards that will nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks by 2025, save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump, and cut oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day.

Sen. Merkley called it a “win-win” in terms of improving national security by decreasing America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East; for creating jobs and wealth in the U.S., and for protecting the environment. “We need to do more of the things (like electric vehicles) that has such a series of positive effects,” he  said.

Hayes, who was there representing Gov. John Kitzhaber, pointed to a recent study commissioned by the governors of Oregon, Washington, California, and the premier of British Columbia, that found transitioning to a cleaner economy over the next decade could generate more than a million net new jobs on the West Coast, provide a GDP contribution of up to $143 billion, and attract hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment to the region.

“It’s already accounting for an economic contribution of $47 billion, and there are 500,000 Pacific Northwest residents who are earning full-time paychecks in clean economy sectors right now,” she said. “These sectors are producing jobs faster and they’re paying better than shrinking sectors of the economy.”

Dillin announced that the Public Utility Commission recently approved PGE’s Electric Vehicle Highway Pilot Project that will add 20 EV quick charging stations along the I-5 and 1-205 corridors.

“If  you’re familiar with ‘range anxiety,’ this will eliminate some of it” for owners of electric vehicles, she said.

The nine charging stations at Local 48 are available to all electric vehicles in the region and are free with a Blink card/key.

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