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Electric cars on the rise, city gets grant to support more

Public charging stations will start popping up around town in early 2014
Posted: September 23, 2013 – 7:56pm
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Robert Barker drives his new Nissan Leaf all-electric car on Egan Drive on Monday. Barker estimates it costs him about one cent per mile in energy costs to drive. Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Robert Barker drives his new Nissan Leaf all-electric car on Egan Drive on Monday. Barker estimates it costs him about one cent per mile in energy costs to drive.
By KATIE MORITZ
JUNEAU EMPIRE

Robert Barker is one of a small subset of Juneauites: electric car owners. He avoids gas stations by plugging in his car at home — along with about 11 other electric vehicle owners in town. This number is growing, Alaska Electric Light & Power Co.’s Alec Mesdag said, and the city recently received a grant that will help install about a half-dozen public charging ports to make the vehicles more viable.

The Juneau Community Foundation, partnered with the City and Borough of Juneau, recently won a $25,000 Bloomberg Award for Local Sustainability Matching Fund, according to a foundation news release. The money will go toward placing electric vehicle charging stations around town, and local organizations and businesses will contribute matching funds to the cause. These plug-in locations should start becoming available in early 2014.

The grant comes at a time when electric cars are picking up steam in Juneau, said Mesdag, co-chairman of the Juneau Economic Development Council’s Renewable Energy Cluster. AEL&P currently offers a reduced rate on kilowatt hours for people who charge their electric cars at night. Right now, eight of the program’s 10 available slots are filled, and the last six electric car owners enrolled only in the past six weeks — a significant jump, he said.

“I’ve been amazed at the increase,” Mesdag said.
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