Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon laughs as she and Fred Meyer Store Manager Anthoney Gurule cut a ribbon unveiling four new electric vehicle chargers at Fred Meyer on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon laughs as she and Fred Meyer Store Manager Anthoney Gurule cut a ribbon unveiling four new electric vehicle chargers at Fred Meyer on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Fred Meyer installs fast car chargers

Juneau has the only fast chargers in Alaska

Devon Kibby used to keep a detailed spreadsheet of Juneauites who owned electric vehicles.

Now, he can’t keep up.

“I just see a new one every day,” Kibby, the president of the Juneau Electric Vehicle Association (JEVA), said.

Those cars will now have more places to charge in public, as four charging stations were unveiled at Fred Meyer on Saturday. Two of the chargers are fast chargers, which Kibby said can charge a car from 0-80 percent in about 20 minutes (thought it depends on what kind of car you have). He also said Juneau has the only four fast chargers to be installed in Alaska so far.

A fast charger, he said, “allows your car to have as much juice as it can take.”

Mayor Beth Weldon, alongside Fred Meyer Store Manager Anthoney Gurule, cut a ceremonial ribbon in front of one of the chargers Saturday afternoon as a small crowd watched. Duff Mitchell, the chair of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability and a longtime advocate for electric vehicles in Juneau, spoke for a few minutes about the significance of the new chargers.

[Juneau commission urges changes in electric car charging, parking]

Many of the chargers in town are privately owned, he said, and having four publicly available chargers at Fred Meyer will make things much more convenient for EV owners.

“This is the first Fred Meyer charger in Alaska, and it’s the first one in Juneau that has four ports,” Mitchell said.

The event coincided with National Drive Electric Earth Day, which was celebrated in more than 175 cities around North America, Mitchell said. Mitchell said Juneau now has 16 electric vehicle chargers.

A new charging station awaits a vehicle at Fred Meyer on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

A new charging station awaits a vehicle at Fred Meyer on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

The process of getting the chargers installed has taken a while, but has involved a great deal of good fortune. A representative from EVgo, a company that makes charging stations, came through Juneau sometime in the past couple years and he and Kibby stayed in touch. EVgo was replacing some of its charging stations down south and reached out to Kibby to see if he might want to install one in Juneau.

Eventually, Kibby ended up getting 11 stations — many of which, purchased new, would be $50,000 — for almost no charge. All he had to pay was the shipping to get them up here. He said one has been installed in Sitka, one has been installed at the Downtown Transit Center and he’s working on preparing the other ones and finding homes for them.

Then, Kibby sat down with Gurule to talk about how possible it would be to get the chargers put in at the store. Gurule said he liked the idea and started climbing the ladder to get senior management to sign on. It didn’t take much convincing.

[City gets funding for another electric bus]

Last July, Kibby said, Fred Meyer senior management approved of installing the chargers. Gurule said he wasn’t sure what the installation cost was, but said his superiors were very much in favor of putting them in. Gurule was fairly quiet and humble during the ceremony and in an interview afterward. City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member Wade Bryson wanted to make sure to give him credit during the ceremony.

“Anthoney has been a great civic-minded business manager,” Bryson said. “He’s been a great leader to his staff, he’s taken really good care of his Juneauite Fred Meyer employees. It didn’t surprise me one bit that Fred Meyer would take the leadership of expanding electric vehicle charging.”

Weldon read a declaration prior to the ribbon-cutting, declaring the day as Drive Electric Earth Day in Juneau and thanking Fred Meyer for installing the chargers. As she and Gurule prepared to cut the ribbon, Weldon turned to the attendees and smiled.

“I’ve always wanted to say this,” she said, squeezing the scissors and cutting the ribbon. “Charge!”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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