Electric Vehicles Get a Boost in Juneau

Amy Skilbred parades her electric vehicle on Fourth of July in Juneau.
Amy Skilbred parades her electric vehicle on Fourth of July in Juneau.

The goal of becoming the Electric Vehicle capital of the  U.S. just got a lot closer for Juneau groups and electric vehicle supporters.

Juneau received a Bloomberg Award for Local Sustainability Matching Fund – a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities for a sustainable community project. The Juneau Community Foundation in partnership with the City & Borough of Juneau is the recipient of the $25,000 award with local organizations and businesses contributing matching funds.

The grant will help pay for the purchase of public charging stations to be placed around Juneau as well as local mechanic training and outreach. There are an estimated 12 electric vehicles currently on the road in the Capital City, most of them being charged in private homes. The public charging stations should start becoming available early next year.

The Juneau Community Foundationʼs Executive Director, Amy Skilbred, sees potential for electric vehicles to provide a meaningful benefit to the Capital City. “We are pleased to see Juneau acknowledged by the Funderʼs Network and Bloomberg Philanthropies for progressive practices and innovative thinking around energy,” says Skilbred. “I am constantly amazed at this communityʼs ability to rally around important causes.” The local match of the fund was met quickly by Juneau Hydropower along with The Leighty Foundation, AEL&P, The Juneau Community Foundationʼs Blue Heron Fund, and Stanly Ford.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are rising in popularity in Southeast because of the limited road systems. Many would-be buyers are concerned about range between charges but most current models will  drive up to 70 miles on a single charge and can be charged at home with 120 volt power. Other EV features include no tailpipe emissions, no oil changes and most models are manufactured in the USA. The ride is peppy and very quiet and are said to be great in icy conditions.

Cost per mile to drive at Electric Vehicle is about 4 cents per mile compared to 17-22 cents for more traditional vehicles. Federal tax incentives of up to $7500 for purchasing a new vehicle and $1000 for home charging stations are also available.

Electric Vehicles are not without controversy. They cost more than a traditional counterpart and batteries do need to be replaced eventually. Says Skilbred, who is also an electric vehicle owner, “We believe the benefits outweigh the negatives here. EVs arenʼt solving all the worldʼs problems but they do offer some clear benefits to both the owner and the environment.”

City and Borough of Juneau Deputy City Manager, Rob Steedle, is glad to see this initiative move forward. Says Steedle, “Electric vehicles help us realize a primary goal of the Climate Action Plan put forth by the CBJ Assembly in 2011.”

The promotion of electric vehicles in Juneau is an initiative driven by the Renewable Energy Cluster facilitated by the Juneau Economic Development Council (JEDC) with financial support from the USFS and other partners. The Renewable Energy Cluster is made up of local leaders in private, public and non-profit sectors who have a shared interest in renewable energy business opportunities in our region. Says Brian Holst, Executive Director at JEDC, “As interest and markets for renewable energy grows nationally, we are working to identify how our region can contribute to and benefit from these changes in our economy. The members of the working group have identified several initiatives that they believe lead to economic benefits at the community level as well as for individual firms. We applaud their forward thinking and collaboration.”

For more information on the Electric Vehicles for Juneau initiative please contact Zach Wilkinson at JEDC. zwilkinson@jedc.org 523-2329