An electric car-share program could be coming to Hood River for a three-year test run. Forth, a nonprofit trade association based in Portland, is in the process of applying for a federal grant that would allow them to place up to five electric vehicles in Hood River.
Forth recently did a similar electric vehicle project in Portland with a lot of success, and “that motivated us to do it again in a rural setting,” said Kelly Yearick, a program manager at Forth, in a phone-presentation to the Port of Hood River during a commission meeting earlier this week. “We intend to bring these projects to communities where they wouldn’t otherwise have been brought,” she said.
Forth has already partnered with Mid-Columbia Housing Authority, Pacific Power, Envoy, American Honda, MCEDD, the City of Hood River, OpConnect, Columbia Willamette Clean Cities Coalition, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Ride Connection, Radio Tierra and the Next Door on the project, and is looking to add the port of Hood River to that list.
Hood River is an ideal place for this kind of project, Yearick said, because it’s not too far from Portland and attracts a tourist crowd, and because it fits into the goals of the Hood River County Energy Plan: A joint plan adopted by Hood River County Commission, Hood River City Council, the Port of Hood River and the Port of Cascade Locks in 2016 that set community-wide energy reduction goals and a goal to produce more renewable energy locally. The Port of Hood River is currently entertaining a separate proposal to establish a community solar system at the Hood River Airport.
The project would be assessed each year and adjusted according to the results, Yearick said. “We are interested in moving the parking spaces around, potentially” and adjusting the pricing structure year-to-year, she said.
Between the City of Hood River and Mid-Columbia Housing Authority, Forth has secured eight potential parking spots in Hood River for the program, and is interested in securing one to two more spaces on port property, potentially near the Columbia Gorge Express stop.
“All that we’re really asking, or gauging your interest in, is giving up a parking space,” Yearick said, adding that the program would require “minimum to no hands-on participation” from the port.
The electric vehicles and charging stations were donated by American Honda and OpConnect, respectively, so participation in the program would be at no cost to the port.
The commissioners said they were interested in the project and authorized port staff to continue discussions with Yearick and to draft the letter of commitment, but the commissioners did express concern over the installation of a charging station on port property. Commissioner Ben Sheppard said he worried about a potential power bill associated with the charging stations, and Commissioner John Everitt said he was concerned about the station becoming a semi-permanent structure.
Forth will submit its federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy on June 14.