Duff Mitchell gives an update to electric vehicles usage in Juneau to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during their weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Duff Mitchell gives an update to electric vehicles usage in Juneau to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during their weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau commission urges changes in electric car charging, parking

Sustainability group suggests time limits, paying for charging

There was no altar or pulpit, and the Juneau Moose Lodge is hardly a church, but Duff Mitchell did his best to preach the gospel of the electric car to attendees of Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Mitchell, chairman of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability, talked for an hour about the burgeoning number of electric cars in Juneau and the recommendations the commission is making to improve public support for those vehicles.

“Things are changing, and they’re changing rapidly,” Mitchell said. “More charging stations are going to be needed.”

More than that, the city needs to change the way it manages its existing charging stations, he said.

The commission, which held public meetings and collected comments, has compiled a list of recommendations in that regard.

Among the recommendations are changes in parking ordinances and ordinances governing the use of the city’s free charging stations.

While the city last year began limiting charging at the Marine Parking Garage to two hours, Mitchell said the commission is recommending further limits and the collection of a “fair rate … per use” from the city’s nine electric vehicle chargers.

That could be collected by credit card or a coin-operated box, he said.

“I’m not saying this is what’s happening; I’m just saying this is what our research and our hours … have come up for our city leaders,” he said.

There also would be tougher limits on stays in parking spots designated for chargers. Parking in a spot with a fast-charging “Level 3” charger would be limited to 30 minutes. Violators could receive a parking ticket.

Any recommendations would have to go through the city’s public works committee and the Assembly before being implemented.

Much of Mitchell’s presentation was devoted to explaining the way electric vehicle use has grown in the capital city. When Mitchell bought his Nissan Leaf in 2013, he said there were perhaps only six in the capital city. There are now more than 300, plus a dozen Tesla electric vehicles and additional models from other manufacturers.

Juneau’s high gasoline prices and low (by Alaska standards) electric prices make the economics pencil out, he said, angling his sermon toward the interests of the fiscally minded Chamber audience.

According to estimates provided by Mitchell, a prototypical electric car driving 10,000 miles per year will cost about $300-$400 in electricity. An average gasoline-powered vehicle driving the same distance will cost about $1,000 more in Juneau, he said.

“You save the equivalent of a thousand-dollar Permanent Fund Dividend a year (with an electric car),” he said.

Mitchell was asked why the city should pay for electric car chargers. After all, the city doesn’t buy gasoline for cars that use combustion engines.

“Public chargers provide a public safety service,” he said, explaining that someone might be stranded if they run out of electricity while on the road.

In addition, while more than 80 percent of electric car charging happens at home, people in apartments don’t always have access to places for home charging.

Furthermore, he said, older electric vehicles like his don’t have the range for a long round trip on the CBJ’s road network. A drive from the Mendenhall Valley to Eaglecrest Ski Area might not leave a driver with enough electricity to get home. That’s why there’s a charging station there.

Mitchell said the city’s fifth annual electric vehicle roundup will take place at 11 a.m. Sept. 8 in the parking lot next to Coast Guard Station Juneau. Every year since 2013, the city’s electric vehicles have gathered for a group photo to illustrate their spread. The gathering has already outgrown the Mendenhall Wetlands wayside and the Savikko Park parking lot.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 143 on Friday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves relaxed environmental rules for ‘advanced recycling’

Applies to facilities using high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon (right) discusses the Juneau School District’s financial crisis with school board Vice President Emil Mackey (right) and City Attorney Robert Palmer during a meeting Thursday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Meetings to comment on Assembly’s proposed $9.6M of help to school district scheduled next two Mondays

Plan includes $4.1 million no-interest loan, picking up “shared costs” this year and next.

A crowd overflows the library at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Thursday night as school board members meet to select a consolidation option to help resolve the Juneau School District’s budget crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders approve putting grades 9-12 at JDHS, 7-8 and HomeBRIDGE at TMHS

Elementary schools will be K-6; Marie Drake, Floyd Dryden to close this fall if plan gets final OK.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives celebrate the passage of a sweeping education bill on Thursday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes $680 BSA increase, with other education provisions

Bill now returns to Senate, which must pass it unchanged before it can head to the governor’s desk.

House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage, speaks during Thursday night’s floor debate on an education bill. (Screenshot from akl.tv livestream)
House approves $680 BSA increase, extra support for charter schools in education bill

Bill passes by 38-2 vote, Senate expected to concur with changes after days of negotiations.

Musicians perform Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, at Devil’s Club Brewing. The event was among the first three allowed under a newly amended state law. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Three Alaska alcohol manufacturers sue state over rule limiting live music and entertainment

Plaintiffs say limit of four events annually at breweries and distilleries violates First Amendment.

A previously unidentified Eastern North Pacific right whale surfaces in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska in September 2023. The discovery of this whale was hailed by scientists studying the critically endangered population. Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the animal through an online contest that will use bracketed competition. (Photo by Bernardo Alps/NOAA Fisheries, International Whaling Commission and WildSea Inc.)
Agency asks public to name, get to know member of highly endangered Alaska whale population

NOAA wants people online to name Eastern North Pacific right whale spotted in September.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 21, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 25

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Most Read