Free car charging stations come to Cordova

Koplin: it cost CEC less to provide the public charging service for free

There are two pedestals for charging electric vehicles in Cordova, one at the First Street parking lot at the entrance to the Cordova Center, and one on the lower lot. Each pedestal has two chargers. A one-hour charge provides about 20 miles of range. Photos courtesy of Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, who is also the CEO of the Cordova Electric Cooperative

In another step toward power independence the city of Cordova and Cordova Electric Cooperative marked the Solstice with the installation of four electric vehicle charging stations at the city center. Their use will be free to the public.

The lower price of locally produced electricity supports Cordova’s economic self-sufficiency, the strategic goal of the city, said Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, who is also the chief executive officer of the CEC. Selling more hydroelectricity helps increase renewable power production to 90 percent of energy sales by 2025, the strategic goal of CDC.

“Our dream is for Cordova to be 100 percent renewable and EV’s (electric vehicles) will play an important role in that,” he said. “EVs can become a storage element of our Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium smart grid development work, in partnership with the Department of Energy and other national labs., by sinking excess hydro to vehicle batteries for later use, which results in our community becoming cleaner and stronger as the grid gains resiliency.”

Member owners of CEC had requested charging stations, indicating that would influence their decision to purchase an electric vehicle.

“Research indicated that the affordable way to provide EV stations is to avoid the costly billing electronics and software that just don’t hold up in our weather,” Koplin said. “It costs CEC less to provide the public charging service for free, so that’s what we’re doing.”

The CEC’s plan includes installations by homeowners and businesses who have indicated interest, with CEC advising on charging station alternatives. The new Clipper Creek charging stations we selected will provide about 20 miles of driving range with a one-hour charge.

“If demand grows as rapidly in Cordova as it has in other coastal Alaskan communities, we will soon feel the pressure for more charging stations,” he said.

For months, the CEC and the city collaborated on the stations, working with businesses and residents to identify locations with the greatest positive impact on parking, business development, social functions, and the local economy.

The Cordova Center was selected as the preferred site, with two charging stations in the First Street parking lot serving the business district, and two charging stations in the lower parking lot serving the waterfront businesses and harbor.

In addition to serving the community, the charging stations are expected to attract and accommodate visitors to Cordova via the Alaska Marine Highway System.

“The Tesla users group is looking for communities with electric vehicle charging stations to visit,” according to John Harvill, a Cordova Tesla owner and member of the Alaska Tesla Users Group.

As the only road access to Cordova is by ferry, an EV charged in Anchorage can drive the 60 miles to the ferry terminal at Whittier and recharge their vehicle when they get to Cordova. According to the chargers listed in locating a charger in Anchorage may be more difficult than finding one in coastal Alaska.