Editorial: Chicken-and-egg on electric car charging stations

There were only 53 electric cars registered in Central Oregon in January, but the state is preparing to spend $600,000 to build six charging stations in Warm Springs, Madras and Redmond.

Using federal money, the Oregon Department of Transportation has already placed 27 such stations around the state and plans a total of 43. Bend has three.

ODOT wants local reaction to suggested locations.

Our reaction: Don’t build them.

We know that’s tilting at windmills, because that “free” federal money is already designated. No matter that we’re closing airport towers, cutting support for Meals on Wheels, facing shortfalls in funding for disabled kids’ education and thousands of other needs, not to mention drowning in debt.

Apparently it’s still necessary to spend more than $11,000 on behalf of each and every one of the 53 electric vehicles registered in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. And a few visitors too, of course.

The reason for this extravagance, according to an ODOT spokeswoman, is a chicken-and-egg sort of argument. If there are no charging stations, then electric cars won’t catch on.

Do you suppose the feds paid for gas stations when automobiles first came on the scene?

The charging stations can be used for free right now, and the state aims to have them about 55 miles apart to accommodate the limited range of today’s electric vehicles. Each station has a fast charger that takes 10-25 minutes for a charge, and a slower one that takes 2 to 4 hours. AeroVironment, the company building the stations for ODOT, will eventually start charging for their use, but right now they’re testing the system and offering the charges for free.

Members of the public can express preferences at http://j.mp/16D5Nhb through April 19. Locations under consideration are at the Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs; City Hall, Dairy Queen and Bi-Mart in Madras; Fred Meyer or a city lot at Southwest Forest Avenue and Southwest Fifth Street in Redmond.

How about: None of the above?