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Group charging ahead on electric vehicle plan

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Sabine Poux
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KDLL
The first phase of funding — from a Volkswagen settlement — covered installation costs for several chargers, like this one at Custom Seafood Processors in Soldotna.

Money from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is helping Alaska with a myriad of different projects — from bluff stabilization in Kenai to port improvements in Nome.

The funds are also going to help the Alaska Energy Authority build out a corridor of electric vehicle fast-chargers along the road system, which it hopes will make it easier for current and future EV users to get around the state.

Curtis Thayer, executive director of AEA, said Alaska is getting about $50 million of the total $2.5 billion reserved in the bill for states through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program.

“So what we thought was going to be a multi-year process to secure funding, the federal infrastructure bill literally gave us the money overnight," he said.

AEA has already been working on a nine-charger corridor between Homer and Fairbanks. To date, funding for that project has come from a 2017 settlement with Volkswagen over a diesel emission scandal.

Thayer said this money, from the federal infrastructure bill, will help expand the corridor beyond that group of nine, up to Delta Junction and over to Glenallen and Tok.

“And then when we look at the Marine Highway System, now we can do this in Kodiak and Ketchikan and Juneau and Sitka and Valdez," Thayer said.

He said the money does not extend to chargers in rural Alaska — yet. He said future phases of the plan could focus on building out an EV system in those parts of the state.

AEA has to submit an implementation plan by Aug. 1 to access the federal funds. It’s asking for input from Alaskans until July 29.

You can submit input here and read the plan on AEA's website here.

Meanwhile, Thayer said the host businesses from the first phase of the project are working on installing their stations now.

Four businesses on the Kenai Peninsula were awarded grants to install and maintain fast chargers on their properties: Custom Seafoods in Soldotna, AJ’s in Homer, Grizzly Ridge Lodge in Cooper Landing and the Seward Chamber of Commerce.

Homer’s charger, at AJ’s, is already hooked up and active. Custom Seafoods in Soldotna, on the Kenai Spur, recently installed its station, as well.

Thayer said others — like the station in Seward — have taken longer to fall into place.

“There’s been some logistical issues, just because of a little bit of inflation, but more the logistics of getting them physically here in Alaska," Thayer said.

He said he hopes to have those stations up and running by the end of the summer.

You can find the original story here.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL in Kenai. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula at KDLL, but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at spoux@kdll.org.
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