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AEA, FreeWire Technologies Unveil Alaska’s First Ultrafast Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Sep 29, 2021 | Energy, News, Transportation

The installation in Homer is the first of nine sites between Kenai Peninsula and Fairbanks to have stations installed as a result of AEA’s corridor initiative

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The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and FreeWire Technologies, a leader in electric vehicle (EV) charging and power solutions, hosted a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at AJ’s OldTown Steakhouse & Tavern in Homer to commemorate the commissioning of the first of nine EV fast-charging stations to be installed on a statewide network and the very first ultrafast EV charger in Alaska. AEA’s goal is to implement a fully operational fast-charging corridor by Summer 2022.

EVs offer significant environmental and economic benefits, as well as reduced fuel costs for EV owners. AEA’s EV team seeks to reduce barriers to EV adoption across the state and be among the first sites in the United States to bring ultrafast charging to remote areas without the need for infrastructure upgrades through FreeWire’s differentiated battery-integrated systems. The development of a fast-charging corridor along the state’s backbone highway demonstrates the ability to provide EV fast-charging everywhere, not just in highly-populated urban environments.

“Building this fast-charging corridor in Alaska helps support EV growth throughout the state,” says AEA Executive Director Curtis W. Thayer. “One of the major issues, as people look to EV adoption, is range anxiety. Providing the opportunity for EVs to have access to charging stations along the state’s highways is important because it allows for long-distance driving. The first ultrafast charging site in Alaska might be at the end of the road here in Homer but, for AEA, it is the beginning of Alaska’s Electric Highway,” adds Thayer.

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In June 2021, AEA awarded nearly $1 million in grants to support the installation of eight Level 2 (L2) chargers and fifteen Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) at nine sites across Alaska. The goal of the program is to locate one fast-charging station approximately every 50 to 100 miles along the state’s highway system, as funding and existing power supply infrastructure allow. The funds cover the final design, installation, hardware, software, network, and operations and maintenance services for five years. The successful applicants are contributing an additional $500,000 in matching funds for a total of approximately $1.5 million investment in Alaska’s EV charging infrastructure.

“Alaska’s incredibly high demand charges make the use of conventional EV charging systems too expensive, as these costs are typically passed on to the site host,” says Rob Anderson, FreeWire Technologies Business Development Director. “With the ability to charge electric vehicles directly from FreeWire’s battery-integrated system instead of the costly utility grid, these demand charges are all but eliminated. This is also helpful to utilities as it reduces power being needed at the far edge of the electricity grid.”

FreeWire’s ability to plug into an existing low-voltage power source and deliver high-power ultrafast charging is the ideal solution for a remote tourism location such as Homer, where the state’s electricity is provided by a series of low-power microgrids. In this case, FreeWire’s ultrafast Boost Charger is plugged into the very end of these limited-power microgrids and provides fast charging where it is needed most.

The transportation sector is increasingly transitioning to EVs. There are now more options for hybrid and full EVs than ever, and with the recent appearance of the electric truck and other all-wheel drive options, Alaskans will see more and more EVs sharing their roadways. EVs and their charging infrastructure can bring new industries to Alaska, helping to promote the economy and save Alaskans money. Much of the country is already in a rapid transition to EVs. However, many Alaskans have identified barriers to adoption such as range anxiety, unknown performance in a cold climate, and costs that prevent them from confidently making an EV their next vehicle purchase. For this reason, AEA has adopted a mission to lead the effort to minimize barriers that inhibit EV adoption in Alaska.

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