By Aly De Angelus 

Skagway is joining the growing list of communities to install electric vehicle charging stations. As an added incentive, Alaska Power & Telephone Co. (AP&T) gave the charging station to the municipality for free. Borough Manager Brad Ryan is looking at installation logistics and expects to have the outlet up and running by spring.  

There are a few questions that the borough still needs to settle. For starters, is one charging station enough to make a difference in the community? 

“It would be much better if we could get more than just a single car to drive around Whitehorse and plug in,” Assemblymember Orion Hanson said. “That’s kind of the goal here, for human activity between here and Juneau, where it’s feasible for people to travel with an electric vehicle.” 

Juneau has more than 300 electric vehicles and about a dozen public charging stations. The Yukon Territory has about a dozen charging stations, too. And the territorial government released a draft proposal late last year to strive for 6,000 electric vehicles in use by 2030 — one of every six passenger vehicles in the territory. 

Ryan does not think it will be an issue to land three or four more charging units by July. Estimated cost for each station is $7,000 and a couple thousand per installation. The location has yet to be determined, though there is talk of settling near the waterfront so cars traveling by ferry can get a quick charge.  

Some stations have a payment feature, but Ryan said the municipality will not charge for the power unless the bill becomes insurmountable.  

“It seems like a fairly easy project so we just thought we would slap this one in the spring to see how it goes and budget for another,” Ryan said. 

Electric vehicles are considered an environmentally friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles. 

Charging stations in the state received a boost last year when the Alaska Energy Authority set aside $1.2 million for new installations, of which it allocated $125,000 for Southeast. It was part of Alaska’s $8.1 million share of a $2.95 billion penalty paid to the federal government by German automaker Volkswagen, which was caught installing software in cars that cheated government emissions tests.  

One requirement of the company’s 2015 settlement was to invest $2 billion in zero-emissions vehicle initiatives over a 10-year term.