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Coming to a highway near you: electrically powered big rigs

An electric concept truck by Volvo. Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) is a public-private partnership working to transform freight operations. (Courtesy Volvo Trucks North America)
Thursday, July 30, 2020

A plan to create a clean transit corridor supporting electric-powered big rigs would have 27 charging stations built along Interstate 5 through California, Oregon and Washington.

During the next decade, electricity could power as many as 25 percent of the medium-duty trucks and 5 percent of the heavy freight haulers in the three states, according to the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative.

The initiative is a study commissioned by an unprecedented collaboration between a variety of utility companies, including Pacific Power.

“The future of Oregon’s transportation is electric, and utilities have an essential role to play in building the infrastructure needed to support a cleaner energy future,” said Aaron Milano, a manager at Portland General Electric. “Laying the groundwork for an electric I-5 will help the West Coast meet its climate goals, provide cleaner air for our communities and provide new economic opportunities as we make the transition to electric vehicles and trucks.”

The report, released in June, recommends expanding state, federal or private programs that provide funding for transportation electrification, which could further accelerate electric truck adoption and expand economic opportunities constructing charging sites.

Portland General Electric and Pacific Power offer grant programs and are developing infrastructure programs that support nonresidential electric vehicle charging, but more support will be needed to reach transportation electrification levels identified in the study and to meet state climate goals.

“We’re fortunate to have such great alignment in the West around discussing and planning for our shared energy future,” said Eva DeCesaro, a manager at Pacific Power. “Pacific Power and the other study sponsors are looking beyond our local service areas and working together toward regional solutions.”

Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, making the electrification of freight transportation a critical part of meeting the state’s climate goals.

The study’s final report proposes a phased approach for electrifying the I-5 corridor. The first phase would involve installing the 27 charging sites along I-5 at 50-mile intervals for medium-duty electric vehicles, such as delivery vans, by 2025. Then, later, 14 of the 27 charging sites would be expanded to also accommodate charging for electric big rigs by 2030.

Of the 27 proposed sites, five are in Oregon.

To learn more

To read the full study or parts of it, visit

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