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chugachelectric.com

About Chugach

Chugach is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that provides energy services.

Chugach Headquarter Location

5601 Electron Drive

Anchorage, Alaska, 99518,

United States

907-563-7494

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Latest Chugach News

Electric vehicles set for takeoff in Alaska, but there are bumps in road

Sep 17, 2021

Close Sara Hall, of ReCharge Alaska, pushes the "start" button at the new fast-charge site in Cantwell. Photo courtesy Golden Valley Electric Association By Tim Bradner We have lifted the paywall on this story. To support essential reporting, please consider becoming a subscriber . Sara Hall, of ReCharge Alaska, pushes the "start" button at the new fast-charge site in Cantwell. Photo courtesy Golden Valley Electric Association Add another 500 cars that are hybrids, which operate both on electricity and liquid fuel like gasoline. The all-electric bandwagon is accelerating. But there are bumps in the road. One is a concern that construction of recharging stations, particularly on highways for vehicles driving between cities are not being built fast enough. This is a worry not only in Alaska but across the nation, too. Another issue more unique to Alaska is how cold weather will affect outdoor recharging stations and battery efficiency, particularly in the state’s Interior where temperatures plunge to minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet another headache are delays in delivery of components for “fast-recharge” units. Several of those were to be operating this year in the state but are now delayed until next year because of equipment delays, according to Kris Hall, who owns Recharge Alaska with his wife, Sara. The Halls founded Recharge Alaska last year to work on developing Alaska infrastructure needed for electric vehicles, particularly the “fast-charge” sites that can power up a car in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the model of the car. To jump-start the infrastructure the Alaska Energy Authority, a state agency, has put up $1 million in grants to support installation of 12 fast-charge sites at nine locations across the state. AEA’s plan uses Alaska’s share of money from a national lawsuit settlement with Volkswagen over falsification of vehicle emissions days. The state agency is helping finance fast-charge locations, most still in development, aimed to be less than 100 miles apart along the Southcentral and Interior Alaska highway system. In Southcentral Alaska grants have been awarded for recharge sites in Homer, Soldotna, Seward, Cooper Landing, and Anchorage as well as sites in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Recharge stations are also planned along the Parks Highway that connects Anchorage with Fairbanks including one that has just opened at Cantwell near Denali National Park, although the facility is temporarily down over a maintenance issue. Two more sites are planned at Healy, which is just north of the Denali park, but those won’t be operating until next year. Golden Valley Electric Association of Fairbanks, the Interior electric cooperative also plans to install a fast-charge station in downtown Fairbanks at its headquarters with a goal of having it open by late fall, Hall said. Matanuska Electric Association is also working with “fast charge” developers at several locations in its MatSu service area, spokesperson Julie Estey said. Meanwhile, there are nine recharging sites are now in Anchorage, but all but one of these are systems that charge at a slower rate, Chugach Electric spokesperson Julie Hasquet said. They are operating now, however. Hall said a fast-charge site at Dimond Center in Anchorage is delayed by slow equipment deliveries, but Hasquet said one of the slower-charging sites is now operating there. When when the fast-charge infrastructure is in place along Southcentral and Interior highways it will be possible from drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks, or from Homer to Anchorage, with one recharge stop even in winter. That can be done in summer now but not in cold weather. Getting the fast-recharge sites up and running, which could be done by next years, will allow these trips to be done even in winter. All-electric cars run solely on electricity stored in batteries, commonly with a range of 200-300 miles or more. Hybrid electric vehicles typically run for a limited range, often 25 to 40 miles on battery power before switching over to a conventional liquid-fuel engine. Hasquet said Chugach Electric Association is deeply engaged in boosting use of all-electric vehicles and is helping finance six of the nine recharge sites in Anchorage as well as giving its members incentives to go all-electric. Using electricity as a transportation fuel instead of gasoline provides a number of benefits, Chugach said in materials posted on its website. For starters, “fueling” a vehicle with electricity is less expensive than fueling with liquid fuels. “The primary reason for the low cost per mile is the efficiency of the electric drive system as compared to the relative inefficiency of an internal combustion engine,” Chugach said in information on its website. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, only 16 percent to 25 percent of the energy stored in liquid fuel is used to actually propel an internal combustion engine vehicle. In contrast, about 77 percent to 82 percent of the energy used in an electric vehicle powers the wheels. There are also reduced emissions such as carbon dioxide, a major cause behind global warming. These releases are cut by 60 percent to 70 percent compared with carbon dioxide emissions from using traditional fuels in autos. There are emissions that occur to power electric vehicles, however, and those take place at the power plants where electricity is generated with fossil fuels like natural gas. However, if a utility, like Chugach, has a power generation portfolio comprised of units powered by renewable energy like hydro and wind the volume of emissions per unit of generated power is lower. In addition, an electric vehicle emits no cold-start carbon monoxide and other pollutants that come from conventional internal combustion engines. Helping boost electric vehicles makes good business sense for electric utilities. Selling more electricity to serve electric vehicles helps spread the fixed costs of a utility across greater sales, which puts downward pressure on electric rates. That’s important for most of Alaska’s electric cooperatives, which are owned by their members. The number of all-electric vehicles in Anchorage continues to grow steadily and there are a wide variety of all-electric vehicles and “plug-in” hybrid vehicles operating in the city. According to Chugach Electric data, as of June 30, 2021 there were 12 makes and 18 models of all-electric vehicles in Anchorage and 16 makes and 29 models of hybrids, for a total of 47 different models of electric vehicles on Anchorage streets. The most common all-electric vehicles in Anchorage is Tesla, which amount to about three quarters of the all-electrics, according to the Chugach data. Chevy’s Bolt all-electric is also popular. Support Local Journalism

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  • Where is Chugach's headquarters?

    Chugach's headquarters is located at 5601 Electron Drive, Anchorage.

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