Take an EV for a Spin

PUD Partners in A Car Share Program that Gives Customers a Chance to Test Drive an Electric Car for Free

The GoForth electric vehicle is parked at the Veterans Service Office in downtown The Dalles.

By Rodger Nichols

A big difference between utilities that are investor-owned versus customer-owned is where their loyalty lies. Investor-owned utilities have obligations to stockholders. Utilities owned by the people they serve— such as Northern Wasco County PUD— are loyal to those in their communities.

To that end, the PUD is always looking for ways to make things better. The latest is a self-serve electric car share program partnership with Forth Mobility.

Here’s how it works: A Nissan Leaf is parked at the Veterans Service Office, 201 Federal St. On the sign next to it is a QR code. That code can be used to download the Miocar app, which is available for Apple or Android phones.

The app asks for information needed to confirm the person is a licensed driver. The authorization process may take up to 3 days. Once complete, drivers can choose to use their phones to open and start the car or have an RFID card sent to them that will do the same thing.

Through the app, you can reserve the car on a first-come, first-served basis, with the first 2 hours of use free. A small charge applies thereafter. Other utilities around Oregon also participate.

“This program is designed to introduce electric vehicles in a more rural, nonurban area,” says the PUD’s Cherish Southard. “In addition, it provides a type of transportation equity to everyone.”

It is also an opportunity for people who are curious about electric vehicles to give them a try, with no sales pressure.

“Since there’s no tailpipe, there’s no emissions,” Cheryl says of EVs.

Maintenance and operating costs are generally lower than with combustion engine vehicles since there is no need for oil changes, spark plug replacements, or tune-ups. Even better, there’s no need to stop at gas pumps.

Cheryl says the average cost of charging runs $25 to $50 a month, depending on miles driven and the utility rate. With gas prices above $5 a gallon, that can be less than the cost of a single fill-up.

There are several charging stations in The Dalles that are free to use: Lewis & Clark Festival Park, the PUD’s main office, and a couple of dealerships in town. Those that require a fee for charging are at Fred Meyers and Cousins’ Country Inn. The latter is for Tesla models only.

Most people who buy EVs install charging stations at their homes. Costs for Level 2 chargers run between $400 and $700. The PUD offers a $250 rebate.

State rebates are available for the purchase or lease of EVs, based on the battery capacity of the vehicle. A federal income tax rebate of up to $7,500 is also available on some models.

Northern Wasco County PUD invites you to take advantage of the free 2-hour test drive. You may decide you want your future ride to be electric.

For more information about EVs, visit our Electric Vehicles page.