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Plug-In NCW Welcomes Pybus Public Market

Downtown Wenatchee's Pybus Public Market - the newest location in our ever-expanding charging station network.

Plug-In North Central Washington is pleased to announce that our latest charging opportunity is ready for your use at the Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee. Most people who walk into Pybus Market for the first time look up to the rafters and say something like “very cool” or “wow” or “feels comfortable.” That’s because the building is all of that, and way more. It has been said: “Pybus Market is a look at our future, through our past; a building twice scrapped but now the envy of many.” The Pybus Public Market hosts both farmer's markets and full-time eateries, arts and produce vendors.

The charging station is located on the small building at the north end of the main building.  You can charge at 240 Volts and 75 Amps while eating or shopping the market. Want your exercise …. or just a chance to enjoy the beauty of the mighty Columbia River? Either way, the famous 10 mile paved trail called the Apple Capital Loop Trail is perfect for walkers and bikers alike.  And it’s adjacent to Pybus Market. The Sky Walk to downtown is within easy walking distance too. Start your journey through the Wenatchee Valley at one of its central public hubs, all while giving your EV the renewable energy it needs.

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First Nissan Leaf Traverses North Cascades Highway

By Steve Coram

More than 100 years ago, Washingtonians, on both the west and east sides of the Cascade Range, yearned for a viable northern crossing of the majestic mountain range bisecting the state. There was great hope of increased trade when the Cascade Wagon Road was opened in the late 19th century in the Upper Skagit River region. But it wasn't until the early 1970s that a paved highway was completed to link the northern reaches of the Cascades. The North Cascades Highway was not only a critical connecting link for tourism in the North Central Washington region, but also became a destination all its own and is now commonly referred to as the most spectacular mountain pass crossing in the entire state.

I always considered it my own personal tragedy that I had never been across the North Cascades Highway. And after becoming an owner of a Nissan LEAF two years ago, I succumbed to the idea of traveling into the "North American Alps." Driving a sub-100 mile EV from sea-level to almost 5,500ft. seemed like a great recipe for being stranded. 

However, in just the past two years, electric vehicle infrastructure has improved immensely. The West Coast Green Highway established DC quick charging stations across another Cascade Range pass, Stevens Pass, allowing for Seattle-area EV travelers to head into Wenatchee, located on the east side of the state. And a grassroots effort by Plug-In North Central Washington to install high-amperage Level 2 charging stations north of Wenatchee made it possible for EV travelers to drive to the tourist playgrounds in Pateros, Winthrop, and Mazama along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range.

The Stevens Pass route made EV travel to these wonderful locales possible. However, that direct-shot crossing of the North Cascades seemed like a pipe dream for Nissan LEAF drivers. Late last year, I actually wrote a blog entry about the possibility of driving a Nissan LEAF across the North Cascades Highway, traveling from west to east. In a nutshell, to successfully cross the North Cascades Highway in a Nissan LEAF, there would have to be a charging solution somewhere between Burlington (sea level) and Washington Pass (5,477ft). 

With Seattle City Light still working through the bureaucracy of installing a Level 2 charging station at its Newhalem site, I started looking at the possibility of crossing the North Cascades Highway in reverse direction, from east to west. Using the West Coast Green Highway and Plug-In North Central Washington's charging infrastructure, I could easily get all the way to Mazama, WA located less than 20-miles east of Washington Pass. The trade-off was that it would take a full day of driving just to get to Mazama.

The trip was set: I was going to be the first Nissan LEAF driver to cross the North Cascades Highway! In my usual fashion, I decided to add a bit extra to the trip to make it fun for my kids (convincing my wife that it was a great idea for me to take our two children, ages six and three, for 24 hours didn't take much persuasive power). Before crossing the North Cascades Highway from Mazama, I would drive our LEAF to, according to DangerousRoads.org, the highest point reachable by car in the state, Hart's Pass. Actually, we would continue past Hart's Pass and drive up to Slate Peak before descending a vertical mile back into the town of Mazama.

Oh. My. God. The drive to Hart's Pass.

We arrived at the Level 2 charging station in Mazama 11 hours after leaving home. It was about 97 degrees outside and mid-afternoon. We still had to go to the highest point in the state accessible by car, back down, charge, then make a first-ever drive across another mountain pass to get home. Not wanting to bake in the hot weather any longer, I did some quick calculations and decided that with the 71% charge our LEAF had, we could make it to Slate Peak and back without being stranded.

Let me be blunt: nobody should drive a Nissan LEAF up to Hart's Pass. If doing this trip in a car, the minimum capability vehicle would be a Subaru. We saw quite a few 4x4s. For reference, the only two other vehicles that made it all the way up to Slate Peak were two old, no-muffler, lifted Toyota trucks.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Yes, we made it to Slate Peak! I recorded an ending elevation reached by our Nissan LEAF as 7,283ft. However, leaving Mazama with a 71% charge was nearly a fatal mistake. Just as soon as we arrived to Hart's Pass (6,197ft.) the Low Battery Warning chimed in the LEAF. From Hart's Pass, the fire lookout tower at Slate Peak can be easily seen. I couldn't resist my daughter asking to "Go up there!" to see the tower. There is more than a thousand feet of elevation gain driving the three miles from Hart's Pass to Slate Peak, though. Our Nissan LEAF quickly barked at us with a Very Low Battery Warning within the first couple of switchbacks. I was committed, though. Anything for the kids, right? 

Made it to Slate Peak at 7,283 feet with only 1,000 watt-hours of electricity to spare. That was close!

After parking, the kids and I hiked the remaining distance to the fire lookout tower at the top of Slate Peak. The views were INCREDIBLE!

On the way back down from Slate Peak, the car regenerated about 2,500 watt-hours. This is not as much as an EV driver may expect from a vertical mile descent. We were traveling too slow on the decent back into Mazama to transition much from the friction brakes and take advantage of brake regeneration.

Back in Mazama, at the Mazama Country Inn, we plugged into the Level 2 charging station. We were all exhausted and starving, so we went into the restaurant for some hamburgers and air-conditioned relaxation.

Eat first and then sleep. At least they have their priorities straight!

While the kids slept after dinner, I sat there for about 45 minutes trying to make a final decision on how to best approach the next part of the EVentrue: the North Cascades Highway. During the week prior to departure, I had spent considerable time reaching out to various RV Parks located on the west side of Washington Pass. However, not a single inquiry was welcomed. I figured that I had two choices. One, pull into one of the RV Parks and start charging without the blessing of the management. Even though I was unlikely to make EV-converts out of the RV Park folks, I didn't really want to succumb to guerrilla tactics for getting my car charged. My other option was to drive all the way to the next charging station, a CHAdeMO quick charger located in Burlington, WA. It was 121 miles away.

In my pre-trip planning, I never even considered this second option. All of the elevation profiles and mileage charts that I created and saved for reference along the trip had us leaving Mazama and stopping at one of the RV Parks along the way into Burlington. But as I started putting the elevation profiles together, I became more convinced that the long-shot attempt of driving 121 miles was possible. So, after three hours of charging in Mazama, we departed.

Washington Pass: Elevation 5,477ft.

Once at the summit of Washington Pass, I pulled over to take a quick picture of the accomplishment and to try and take in the grandeur of the North Cascades under the moon's light. Both kids were asleep in the back, so I figured that I should treat myself to some solitude while I had it. It was that isolation that ended up surprising me. While looking around at the summit, I realized that I had not seen another vehicle since leaving Mazama. Why weren't people driving on the North Cascades Highway?

Underway again, and now starting the long decent into Burlington, it dawned on me. People choose to not drive on the North Cascades Highway at night. Not at night because of all the deer! Up to that point, I had passed seven deer on the roadway. Each time, the deer behaved in a consistent manner when our car approached: Head raised; body moved in place--usually sticking their rump at me; then, as we passed, the deer would hop into the brush. When we approached the eighth deer, I didn't think twice. I shifted from neutral to B Mode (heavy regen) to slow down as we passed the deer until it hopped away. But this time, after the deer raised its head and turned its bum to us, it darted right at our car! It happened impossibly fast...the swerving, horn blaring, daddy cursing, brake pedal mashing...deer hitting. At 11pm, on a deserted mountain pass with no cell service, I hit a freakin' deer.

After coming to a complete stop, I hopped out of the car. The deer was gone; hopefully hopping through the trees. In trying to assess the situation and regain my composure, I started looking the car over. Right away, it was clear that a new hood, new bumper, new fender, and new headlight would be needed to fix my car. Thirteen days after delivery, I smashed my car. I didn't even have the license plate mounted yet!

Back in the car, and getting underway once more, it struck me at how lucky we were. If I had hit the deer straight on, instead of at the corner of the front end, we would've been in a completely different scenario. It was a chilling thought to say the least.

The remaining drive into Burlington was actually quite pleasurable. My children were zonked out in the back seat and I was the only car on the road. And I only encountered one more deer, this time without incident.

Pulling into the Burlington CHAdeMO quick charging station, my LEAF was at the very moment of going into "Turtle Mode," as one battery cell was down to 3.050 volts (hat tip to Tyrel Haveman for the data analysis). We had driven 121 miles on the single charge. A new record for me!

The world is getting smaller to us EV drivers. It won't be much longer when we look back on these EVentures with amusement and nostalgia. The transportation world is changing quickly, and the future stories of EV travel will likely be more about the destination, rather than the journey. But for now, it is all about the journey. The EV pioneering travels!

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Polaris Ranger EV Conversion

A new 2014 Polaris Ranger EV has been delivered to Voltronix USA in Spokane, Wash. for conversion from Lead Acid battery chemistry to Lithium-Ion. This demonstration project is intended to produce an electric powered utility vehicle that will be attractive to orchards, vineyards and other businesses needing small utility vehicles. 

The advantages of Li-Ion chemistry over PbA are many. The most telling is weight. As delivered the Ranger EV weighed 1,810 pounds with 720 pounds being the eight deep cycle batteries. The replacement Li-Ion batteries will weigh in at about 240 pounds. Another important consideration is that Li-Ion batteries need no regular maintenance and last about ten years. PbA batteries need monthly water level checks and require vehicle maintenance to counter the corrosive effects of the Hydrogen Sulphide gasses created while charging. If properly maintained Lead Acid batteries usually last between three and four years in normal use.

No discussion of electric vehicles is complete until "range" has been addressed. Plug-In North Central Washington and Voltronix USA completed an absolute range test with measured and controlled conditions on Monday June 16. Our Ranger EV attained 34 miles before battery exhaustion. What will the Li-Ion pack do? If you would like e-mail updates on this project send us your e-mail address.

 

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First CS-100 in North Central Washington

At the awards breakfast for the North Cascades EV Rally of Discovery, Matt and Laura Moreno presented Plug-In NCW President Ron Johnson-Rodriguez with a new, Clipper Creek CS-100 EVSE charger!  What a grand way to finish an EVent like the EV Rally!

Plug-In NCW has a potential site for this charger, more on this later!

 

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Northwest Travel Writers Conference – Travel and Words 2014

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Northwest Travel Writers Conference – Travel and Words 2014

Photo courtesy of Travel and Words.

Photo courtesy of Travel and Words.

Over this past weekend, Plug-In North Central Washington had the pleasure of exhibiting at the 2014 Travel and Words Conference in Spokane, WA. The event was attended by 43 travel writers from throughout the Northwest and included representatives from Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Also in attendance were 14 authors, editors, and publishers who served as presenters and facilitated workshops. 

At the show I represented Plug-In North Central Washington and partnered with The Cascade Loop's Annette Pitts. Together we garnered tremendous attention with a presentation on being the world’s first fully electrified Scenic Highway with plentiful opportunities for EV tourism.  The hour long team presentation included maps highlighting the beautiful Cascade Loop and describing the locations of all the electric car charging stations along the way. We conducted it in a bit of a “speed dating” format, with ten minute presentations rotating through six tables.

It made me feel proud to be part of this organization. Everyone at the conference was extremely impressed that Plug-In North Central Washington had the vision so many years ago to begin the process of putting in place an infrastructure that would one day stake a claim as the first EV-friendly destination highway. Our intent was to select one or two writers to do a tour this fall and drive the loop in an electric car and experience what fun a zero carbon footprint vacation can be. In the end, I believe we had over 30 writers and editors approach us with interest in doing the tour and writing articles about us. The enthusiasm was overwhelming and we will be discussing how to facilitate as many trips as possible. 

We’ve already been invited to Oregon’s conference next year and are working to make Wenatchee the location for Travel and Words 2015.  

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EVs Coming to North Central Washington

If you live in the Methow Valley or along the Okanogan River Saturday the 7th of June is an opportunity to see electric vehicles and talk with people who own them.  The Omak Inn parking lot will host EVs from about 12 - 2 PM.  The Pateros Lakeshore Inn will experience the arrival of EVs at around 3 PM.  They will be departing at 5 PM for a dinner at the Twisp River Pub.

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12th Clipper Creek CS-90

Plug-In North Central Washington Announces Expansion

We took delivery of our 12th Clipper Creek CS-90 EVSE charger on Thursday the 8th of May.  This third round of purchasing will bring our network up to full Phase One build out.  The purpose of this phase was to make travel along Highways 97 and 20 possible for Nissan Leaf EVs.  With in the next several months Leaf drivers will have access to haL2 (240V 70A) charging opportunities along Highway 97 from Osoyoos, BC to Wenatchee, WA and from Mazama along Highways 20 and 153 to Wenatchee. 

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Grand Opening of World’s First EV Tourism Corridor

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Grand Opening of World’s First EV Tourism Corridor

After years of pushing for it, Plug-In North Central Washington is thrilled to announce the grand opening of the world’s first dedicated electric vehicle tourism corridor between Seattle and Wenatchee, Washington. The three DC Fast Charging stations and accompanying Level 2 stations will allow drivers of appropriately equipped electric vehicles (e.g. Nissan Leafs and Mitsubishi i-MiEVs with fast charging capability) to make the trip between the two regions and become EV tourists.

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Douglas County Makes Installing Electric Car Infrastructure Easy

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Douglas County Makes Installing Electric Car Infrastructure Easy

When it comes to making charging infrastructure for electric vehicles easy to install, Douglas County is way ahead of the curve. While much of the nation struggles with how to change and update existing land use, zoning, permitting and other codes for the easy installation of the charging stations these next generation vehicles need, Douglas County has taken a different approach and found a much simpler way to do it—in a fashion that fits in well with Eastern Washington’s cultural landscape.

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Stevens Pass Opens First Electric Car Charging Stations on U.S. Route 2

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Stevens Pass Opens First Electric Car Charging Stations on U.S. Route 2

As the initial piece of the puzzle in what will eventually be the nation’s first ‘EV-friendly’ scenic tourism corridor along U.S. Route 2 from Seattle to Wenatchee, Wash., the two electric car charging stations opened at Stevens Pass ski resort on June 2, 2011, are not only the first modern universal electric car charging stations over any mountain pass in the U.S., they represent a gigantic milestone in the quest to make all of North Central Washington a place where electric vehicles can flourish.

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Attend a Stevens Pass Electric Vehicle Highway Informational Meeting

The nation’s first electric car-friendly scenic tourism route is moving right along. As previously announced, the Washington Department of Commerce—in collaboration with several partners, including the Plugin Center—will install two or three electric car fast charging stations using federal funds at yet-to-be-chosen locations along Highway 2 over Stevens Pass by the end of 2011.

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Agriculture Looks to Vehicle Electrification for New Solutions

In the December 2010 issue of Good Fruit Grower, the Pacific Northwest’s preeminent orchard and vineyard magazine, North Central Washington is singled out as “a pioneer for the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles because of its cheap hydropower”—something which many of this area’s inhabitants might be surprised to learn. After reviewing some of the history of the Advanced Vehicle Innovations (AVI) consortium and the PluginCenter, Good Fruit Grower points out that agriculture in our region is primed to reap the benefits of vehicle and equipment electrification.

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Navistar Shows Off eStar All-Electric 2-Ton Truck to Local Fleet Owners

One of our key goals at the Plugin Center is to help local fleets, businesses and governments explore the benefits of integrating all-electric vehicles and associated charging equipment into their operations. To this end, on October 14, 2010, the Plugin Center invited Cascadia International of Tacoma, WA, to bring the all-electric Navistar eStar medium-duty commercial truck to Wenatchee for a day of demonstrations and driving experience for potential fleet owners. The event was well-attended and included participation by Link TransitChelan PUD, the City of Wenatchee, and Stemilt Growers. In addition to the demonstration event, the eStar was also featured as a guest of honor the next day at the annual Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Odyssey day held at Wenatchee Valley College.

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Plug-in Hybrid School Bus

Lake Chelan School District (LCSD) in North Central Washington is one of 19 districts in 11 states contracted to receive a hybrid (diesel and electric) school bus in 2007 from IC Corporation. The bus will be configured for plug-in hybrid electric technology; when not in electric mode it will run on low-sulfur diesel blended with biodiesel. The Port of Chelan County’s Advanced Vehicle Innovations (AVI) assisted the school district with this project.

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