Where are Spokane’s electric vehicle charging stations?

Tesla Motors’ Model S is capturing the attention of car enthusiasts, green energy advocates, and ordinary Americans alike. But does Spokane have the charging infrastructure to make electric vehicles feasible? (PHOTO: eotmblog.com)

Spokane’s electric vehicle charging network is slim to nonexistent. According to PlugShare, our city has only a paltry eleven public stations. Almost all of them are located either downtown (i.e. Steam Plant Grill, Davenport Hotel, City Hall, etc.) or at car dealerships. Worse still, the stations that we do have are pitifully slow, because there are no DC fast charging stations or Tesla Superchargers.

By comparison, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles all have hundreds–too many to count. Notably, Bend, Boise, Provo, and Ogden, the cities to which we’ve been comparing Spokane as a sort of “benchmark,” all have under twenty charging stations as well. Missoula has just one public charging station.

It’s clear that Spokane has the potential to take the lead on this. Imagine public charging stations powered entirely by our abundant hydropower and wind! Perhaps we could require new developments to include “green” features like charging stations and bike racks. Perhaps we could incentivize them. Either way, people are moving in Spokane toward electrics just as other cities are. I’ve seen multiple Tesla Model S drivers around the city, as well as drivers of Leafs and Volts. Tesla just opened a Supercharger in Ellensburg, making easy trips to Seattle more than possible, and they’re planning on adding more in Ritzville and Coeur d’Alene.

What do you think? Should Spokane be doing more to encourage electric vehicles along? Do we need a better charging infrastructure? Would you own a Tesla or a Volt or a Leaf in Spokane? Do you? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Editorial Comment: Spokane should oppose coal trains

Coal trains would bring pollution and congestion through the inland Northwest en route to ports on the coast of the Pacific Ocean with no direct benefit to us. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The #spokanerising Project opposes plans to increase coal shipments through the inland Northwest. Such shipments, estimated at 18 additional trains daily to supply the Gateway Pacific Terminal alone, would harm our neighborhoods and threaten our neighborhood vitality. Collectively, the coal conglomerates want to ship an additional 150 million tons of coal every year to China and other developing Asian nations. That’s enough to fill 10,000 more trains every year, and most of them would roll through Spokane’s neighborhoods and its downtown.

Spokane should be the epicenter of this debate. As the largest inland city on the route from the Powder River Basin to the coast, we stand to lose the most from the export proposals. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains at Witter Aquatics Center, located across the street from Avista Utilities at Perry and Mission. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains on the burgeoning University District, set to be a full-scale medical and graduate school. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains downtown, where Expo 74 promised to clean up a dirty, seedy central business district–and then delivered. Who’s going to want to develop in neighborhoods like that? Who’s going to want to increase neighborhood vitality in a neighborhood where trains diminish property values and destroy quality of life? Coal trains are antithetical to increased positive development.

We learned a lot from Expo, but if these coal export proposals are developed, then we risk going back on the commitments and the changes that we made. We risk going back to before 1974. And that’s not a risk that we should be taking.

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The Legacy of Expo ’74

PHOTO: Seville Enterprises, Inc.

Even now, Spokane is pretty proud of Expo ’74. As the smallest city to ever host a World’s Fair, we certainly have a right to be proud of the accomplishment. #spokanerising does its part with an Expo 74-inspired favicon and social media icons. But Expo really did clean up our dilapidated downtown. It really did relocate dozens of acres of railroad facilities, and it really did permanently throw our “Skid Row” of sorts, West Trent (now Spokane Falls Boulevard), out of the picture. Our Fair was the first ever to have an environmental theme, “Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment.” And no less, we had the chutzpah to celebrate the planet in an era defined by the consumption and excess of a steadily-growing American middle class. It was a bold statement on the part of a bold city.

But what is the legacy of Expo ’74? What has been the lasting benefit to our city and region?

Continue reading “The Legacy of Expo ’74”