PORTLAND, OR – Portland General Electric has begun leading the charge for mass adoption of plug-in hybrid-electric cars in Oregon. The utility plans to install 12 electric-vehicle charging stations in Portland and Salem by September as part of a demonstration project to develop the transportation infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles, according to www.oregonlive.com.

The project will also help the utility anticipate the demand plug-in cars might place on the region’s electric grid and design smart grid systems to help even out variability in wind and solar resources.

PGE is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and other partners on the demonstration project, which will design standards for charging stations and develop a public awareness campaign to prepare for mass adoption of plug-in cars over the next two to five years.

ODOT anticipates electric car ownership will grow dramatically in the next two to five years when manufacturers begin mass producing plug-in hybrids.

Portland also boasts the highest per capita ownership of hybrid cars in the country, according to the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, and current hybrid models can be converted to recharge on the grid with a few modifications.

The demonstration project is part of a larger effort by ODOT that will “investigate a variety of methods for funding, installing, and managing a network of charging stations,” according to a concept paper drafted by the department’s Innovative Partnership Program.