Tribal Government & News

Tribal campus is charging up

07.31.2023 Danielle Harrison Environment
Tribal Council Administrative Assistant Shannon Ham-Texeira plugs her Hyundai IONIQ 5 electric vehicle into a ChargePoint charging station on Thursday, July 20. The solar-powered charging station was recently installed in the Tribal Governance Center parking lot for Tribal employee use. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals editor

The Tribe recently began offering another perk to employees with its first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, located at the southern end of the Tribal Governance Center parking lot.

“This is a benefit the Tribe is providing to employees and to help reduce air pollution,” Tribal Engineering and Planning Manager Ryan Webb said. “This charging station is completely self-contained, doesn’t require any utility hookups and creates renewable energy.”

As of presstime, 10 employees had submitted applications to use the new station, which has two plug-ins available. All employees must sign a charging policy prior to usage.

Tribal Audit Director Steve Harrop owns a 2019 Tesla Model 3. He commutes from Portland to Grand Ronde, and drove a convertible Mini Cooper when he first began working for the Tribe.

“It was getting tired and even at 30 miles per gallon, I didn’t like putting the emissions from four gallons of gas into the air every day,” he said. “I’d been a fan of Tesla and its technology since launch, and federal and state electric vehicle incentives brought the cost down to the level of the new Mini I was also considering.”

He said having a charging station onsite means peace of mind.

“My Tesla has enough range to make my round trip,” Harrop said. “However, in winter the lights and wipers use a lot of electricity so I charge nearly full (hard on the battery and not recommended) and get home with 5 to 10 percent left. Now I can get lunch in Sheridan without worrying about getting home, and this winter I’ll be able to lower my charge level at home and top up here to extend the life of my battery.”

Webb said the charging station can be used as a power source in the event of an emergency.

“There are a lot of great benefits,” Webb said. “We’re easing ourselves into this and plan to provide more as more people go to electric vehicles in the future.”

The Tribe is applying for an Oregon Department of Transportation grant, which would provide five more solar charging stations and six traditional panel plug-in stations. Additionally, two electric vehicles would be added to the Tribe’s fleet.

The Tribe has one other electric vehicle charging station, located at Grand Ronde Station, which was installed in November 2012.

“I know lots of people want to have these at the Tribal campus but it’s a new thing so we’re trying to get up to speed, so would ask for patience during this time,” Webb said.