PUD Builds Electric Car Expertise

Two new charging stations use clean hydropower to fuel hybrid and electric-only vehicles

By Kathy Ursprung

Kurt Conger and Justin Brock with Chevy Bolt
Kurt Conger, left, and Justin Brock flank Northern Wasco County PUD’s new all-electric Chevy Bolt fleet car. Kathy Ursprung photo

Northern Wasco County PUD is taking clean hydropower to the open road with an all electric fleet car and a couple of places where other electric car drivers can recharge.

The PUD recently purchased a new Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric car. According to the manufacturer, the Bolt gets about 230 miles on a full charge.

“We were in downtown Portland for a photo shoot and we actually gained mileage through regenerative mobility,” says Justin Brock, PUD Key Accounts Manager. Define regenerative mobility. Regenerative mobility actually builds charge while using the transmission to slow the car in lieu of braking.

“In this business, you really need to know what it’s like to own, operate and maintain this kind of vehicle,” says Kurt Conger, PUD Assistant General Manager and Director of Power Resources.

Electric vehicle charging
Stave and Stone, a winery in Odell, is one of many nearby businesses that provide charging stations, above, as amenities for electric car drivers. Kurt Conger photos

Kurt has been driving Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) since 2011, when he bought a Chevy Volt. He has been able to compare a variety of vehicle attributes.

“It had great performance—both acceleration and gas mileage,” Kurt says. “I often drove it from The Dalles to Seattle and Bend.”

After the car was rear-ended in 2015, Kurt traded it in at Schultens Motors for a Ford Fusion PHEV.

“The Fusion got amazing gas mileage and range (over 500 miles with a full battery and gas tank), and has all of the premium features found in a luxury car.”

Charger plugged into electric vehicle
A home charging station provides convenient charging.

When his Fusion lease ran out, Kurt replaced it with a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a mid-size SUV. It’s one of the few hybrids with all wheel drive. The Outlander has two 60 kilowatt (80 horsepower) electric motors and a two-liter (117 horsepower) gas engine for range. The electric motors and gasoline engine can run simultaneously for acceleration.

The all-electric range of the vehicle is limited by the 12 kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery to about 20 miles in the summer and 12 miles in the winter

“That’s plenty of all-electric range to get around The Dalles without needing any gas,” Kurt says. At the PUD’s single-phase power rate of 5.49 cents per kilowatt hour, that’s about 66 cents for 20 miles of summer travel.