Adoption of electric vehicles has been slower in rural areas than in urban ones, but a "rideshare" program in Oregon is allowing farmers to try out electric tractors.  The program is a partnership between a number of organizations and lets farmers test out electric tractors on their farms for free for several months if needed.  Bridget Callahan is with the Oregon-based nonprofit Sustainable Northwest, which is leading the effort.


“Our whole energy system is moving from a centralized grid, from centralized plants to distributed energy, and we're really here to ensure that this transformation is equitable and provides benefits to rural communities."


Callahan said electric tractors can help farmers avoid the volatility of fuel costs.  A study from 2019 found that rural Oregonians drove nearly twice as many daily miles as the statewide average.  Callahan also noted that farmers are at the whim of many factors they can't control, such as climate change, pests and international conflict.  However, when her organization talks to farmers, they often hear that energy is one of the few things they can control.


“So shifting away from imported fuels to locally sourced energy sources and powering your tractor from an outlet in your shop, that provides a whole new level of resilience and longevity for a farming community." 


Oregon doesn't currently provide any incentives to buy electric tractors, but Callahan hopes this rideshare program can change that.


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