Electric vehicle owner Nanci Spear and her dog Blaze stand next to Spear’s Nisan Leaf. The pair attended the Electric Vehicle (EV) Round Up at the Juneau Subport downtown. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Electric vehicle owner Nanci Spear and her dog Blaze stand next to Spear’s Nisan Leaf. The pair attended the Electric Vehicle (EV) Round Up at the Juneau Subport downtown. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Juneau goes electric

Talk to electric vehicle owners in Juneau and you’re likely to hear some iteration of the phrase ‘Perfect place.’

Five people said those exact words at the Electric Vehicle Round Up on Saturday at the Juneau subport parking lot. Event organizer Duff Mitchell put it this way:

“We’re in that goldilocks zone,” said Mitchell, who was surrounded by Nissan LEAFs, a few Chevy Volts and something called a E-ROD V84X — a three-wheeled, smart-car-sized two-seater.

Mitchell has counted 175 electric or hybrid vehicles in Juneau as of Aug. 1. That’s more than twice the 83 he counted at the time of last year’s round up. In total, he said those vehicles have logged at least 1.2 million miles of oil-free travel in Juneau.

Members of the Juneau Electric Vehicle Association expect those numbers to grow as the weather, geography and cost of electricity in Juneau make it an ideal place to go gasless.

For one, Juneau’s isolated road system staves off “range anxiety.” Electric vehicles can only travel so far before their batteries run dry. When they do, drivers need to get home or to one of Juneau’s 10 charging stations.

But Juneau’s isolation means no road trips, so drivers don’t often travel far enough to test their ranges, which are anywhere between 80 and 238 miles for all-electric cars.

There are currently 10 charging stations, and the city will build one more within a year, according to City and Borough of Juneau architect Michele Elfers, who was on hand at the round up to ask electric vehicle owners just where to put the new charging station.

The cool weather is easy on batteries, which keep better here than in warmer weather, Mitchell said. Alaska Electric Light and Power, the local electricity utility, also offers a discount for car charging outside of peak hours, AEL&P’s Alec Mesdag said.

Nissan LEAFs are far and away the most popular option for electric vehicles in Juneau. But there’s no Nissan dealer in town, which makes maintaining the vehicles difficult.

Though owners say LEAFs are low-maintenance, they have to be shipped to the Lower-48 if they need any serious work, said Bellingham Nissan’s Devin Devolio.

Devolio said that’s only happened once, and because of the LEAF’s popularity in Juneau, the company hopes to send a technician up a few times a year.

Owners reported many reasons for going electric. For EV owner John Cooper, you can’t beat the economics.

“I decided to put my money where my mouth is,” Cooper said. “For about 80 cents I can drive 24 miles with the LEAF, so if you have a car that gets 24 miles to the gallon, that same distance costs you $3.29 for gasoline. From a pure economic standpoint, driving an electric vehicle in Juneau makes all the sense in the world.”

 


 

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or kevin.gullufsen@juneauempire.com.

 


 

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

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

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)
Alaska Senate proposes $7.5 million aid package for struggling fish processors

The Alaska Senate has proposed a new aid package for the state’s… Continue reading

Current facilities operated by the private nonprofit Gastineau Human Services Corp. include a halfway house for just-released prisoners, a residential substance abuse treatment program and a 20-bed transitional living facility. (Gastineau Human Services Corp. photo)
Proposed 51-unit low-income, long-term housing project for people in recovery gets big boost from Assembly

Members vote 6-2 to declare intent to provide $2M in budget to help secure $9.5M more for project.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

An illustration depicts a planned 12-acre education campus located on 42 acres in Juneau owned by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which was announced during the opening of its annual tribal assembly Wednesday. (Image courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Tribal education campus, cultural immersion park unveiled as 89th annual Tlingit and Haida Assembly opens

State of the Tribe address emphasizes expanding geographical, cultural and economic “footprint.”

In an undated image provided by Ken Hill/National Park Service, Alaska, the headwaters of the Ambler River in the Noatak National Preserve of Alaska, near where a proposed access road would end. The Biden administration is expected to deny permission for a mining company to build a 211-mile industrial road through fragile Alaskan wilderness, handing a victory to environmentalists in an election year when the president wants to underscore his credentials as a climate leader and conservationist. (Ken Hill/National Park Service, Alaska via The New York Times)
Biden’s Interior Department said to reject industrial road through Alaskan wilderness

The Biden administration is expected to deny permission for a mining company… Continue reading

Most Read