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Oregon receives $1.2 million grant to expand electric vehicle reach to underserved communities

Oregon – Oregon is taking a significant step forward in the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), thanks to a substantial financial incentive from the federal government. U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden recently announced that the state would receive over $1.2 million in funding. This grant, provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, is aimed at fostering innovative financing solutions for EV purchases, particularly focusing on underserved communities.

The awarded $1,269,225 will be directed to Forth. The project, dubbed Project LACE (Loans to Access Clean EVs), seeks to dismantle financial barriers that hinder underserved populations from accessing electric vehicles. By developing and promoting innovative business models for EV financing, Project LACE aims to make clean, zero-emission transportation options more accessible to those in Justice40 communities. These are areas identified under the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative, which seeks to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy go to disadvantaged communities.

Both Senators Merkley and Wyden have emphasized the importance of not leaving underserved communities behind in the shift towards electric vehicles. Electric vehicles stand at the forefront of combating climate change, offering a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel-powered transportation. However, the transition’s success hinges on its inclusivity and accessibility. This federal funding will help bridge the gap, ensuring that electric vehicles are within reach for more Oregonians, thereby contributing significantly to the state’s climate action goals.

The Role of Forth in Driving Change

Forth’s initiative is particularly noteworthy for its focus on gig drivers and low-wage earners, who often face challenges in accessing reasonable financing for EV purchases. Through collaboration with community-based organizations, lending institutions, and local stakeholders, Project LACE aims to develop scalable business models and financing options tailored to the unique needs of different demographics. Jeff Allen, Executive Director at Forth, highlighted the economic benefits that electric vehicles can offer gig drivers through lower fuel and maintenance costs. The Loans to Access Clean EVs program is set to address these financing challenges head-on, paving the way for broader adoption of electric vehicles across diverse communities.

This initiative is part of the broader National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, a component of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that earmarks a historic $7.5 billion investment to develop a national network of EV chargers. The Ride and Drive Electric funding is a critical step towards deploying zero-emission, convenient, accessible, and equitable transportation infrastructure across the nation. As Oregon embarks on this ambitious project, the state positions itself as a leader in the national effort to embrace clean energy and combat climate change, ensuring that the transition to electric vehicles is both inclusive and far-reaching.

Lavinia Beaumont


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