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Brandon Lerda unplugs his Tesla electric vehicle from charging at the Community Center in Talent Tuesday afternoon. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

Talent to unveil electric car chargers

The city of Talent has jumped into the age of the electric car and will unveil two new chargers in front of its freshly solarized Community Center in an educational forum at 6 p.m. Thursday.

In a celebration and talk called “Electric Vehicles, the New Generation,” Rogue Climate Talent will host James Stevens, president of Southern Oregon Hybrid-Electric Vehicles Association, who will note the convenience of a local Level 2 charge, Talent’s first, with a caution that the technology is evolving fast and more juice may be needed.

“The city has a new, very green community center, very energy efficient, and it made sense to have EV chargers as part of the green theme,” said Cynthia Care of Rogue Climate Talent and Together For Talent. She is an organizer of the event. “I hope it will be a draw for Talent and that it will encourage people to eat in local restaurants and downtown amenities.”

“It’s cost-effective and good for a local, fast charge when you’re doing business in Talent, but I’m recommending they upgrade to Fast Charge (sometimes called Level 3)," Stevens said. "Level 2 is not going to give you a fast charge for a long range. Vehicles being sold now are long range. If you use Level 2 to charge a Tesla, it would take many hours. Fast charge would do it in 30 minutes.”

The two charging stations are free to users and economical to the city, costing $200 to $500 a month, depending on usage (amount corrected from previous version). They offer two- or four-hour charges. The city is studying costs and, depending on use, may charge for it at some point, said Connor Shields, city energy efficiency coordinator.

Level 2 charges max out at 7.7 kilowatts at any given moment, and that will service 26 EV models listed on manufacturer Clipper Creek’s specs, said Shields. The Tesla is above that range but could grab some charge, he adds.

“It doesn’t take long, looking at specs, to realize Level 3 is not needed for a lot of common cars like the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus. Tesla is the most popular, but it’s also the most expensive. It’s an outlier.”

The event will feature local EV dealers, who will answer questions and show their wares, said Care. Forth Mobility, a nonprofit promoter of EV in Portland, will talk about the latest advances in electric transportation. Stevens will promote electric, hybrid and sustainably fueled vehicles, meaning those whose charge comes from solar, wind and other renewable energies.

“The event will be a mixer where people can approach EV owners, ask them how it is to drive one, and look the cars over,” said Sharon Anderson, a volunteer with Rogue Climate Talent and member of Together for Talent.

Stevens also is consulting with Rogue Valley Transportation District, evaluating EV buses for routes by the end of 2019, he said. Oregon, he added, has received $160 million from the federal government from a settlement of the VW emission fraud case, and he is consulting with Oregon Department of Transportation about where to use some of the money for Fast Charge stations in Southern Oregon.

Community organizers of the event and the charging station include many individual contributors and businesses, including Star Properties, Middleway Medicine and Sun Power. Blue Sky Energy is a major contributor to solar panels that power the EV chargers. The chief donor is True South, a solar installer in Ashland.

The event is at 104 E. Main St., Talent. Refreshments will be served.

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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