Kristi Peel checks in her electric vehicle with a volunteer ahead of a road rally held Saturday in Juneau for Earth Day. Previously, Peel said she was the proud owner of the first Chrysler PT Cruise in town. However, after about two decades and 80,000 miles, she purchased her late model Chevrolet Bolt. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Kristi Peel checks in her electric vehicle with a volunteer ahead of a road rally held Saturday in Juneau for Earth Day. Previously, Peel said she was the proud owner of the first Chrysler PT Cruise in town. However, after about two decades and 80,000 miles, she purchased her late model Chevrolet Bolt. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Rally generates excitement for electric vehicles

Juneau’s EV enthusiasts were out in force Saturday

Dozens of electric vehicles, mostly Nissan Leafs, paraded down Egan Drive Saturday as part of an Earth Day rally organized by local electric vehicle advocates. The rally was put on by the Juneau Electric Vehicle Association and sponsored by several local organizations, including the City and Borough of Juneau.

The rally is meant to highlight the benefits of electric vehicles, according to Duff Mitchell, managing director of Juneau Hydropower — one of the sponsoring organizations.

“Juneau is unique, there’s no other charging system like it in the country,” Mitchell said in a phone interview.

The city of Juneau has partnered with groups like JEVA, Juneau Hydropower and Alaska Electric Light and Power to provide 23 free charging stations around town, making electric vehicles more attractive here, he said.

“Economically they’re really good for Juneau, that’s why you see a lot of people buying used (EVs),” Mitchell said.

In addition to the low cost of charging Juneau’s climate is just right for EV batteries, meaning they last longer here than in other areas of the country.

This year’s rally was led by CBJ’s first electric bus, which was unveiled at an event earlier this month with a video message from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and a speech from Gov. Mike Dunleavy celebrating electric vehicles. Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon said at the event the city intends to eventually have 18 electric buses.

[Juneau welcomes its first electric bus]

Saturday’s rally featured a number of elected representatives, both local lawmakers and legislators from other districts took part. Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna and Sens. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau; Robert Meyers, R-North Pole, and Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, joined in, as did Rep. Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage. City officials, including Mayor Beth Weldon and Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss among others were also present.

One electric vehicle owner, Kristi Peel, said she had spent nearly two decades with a Chrysler PT Cruise but had recently upgraded to a late model Chevy Bolt.

“I love it,” she said, noting a particular fondness for the heated steering wheel —not that it was needed on a sunny Saturday.

But while Juneau does have a lot of amenities for electric vehicles, Mitchell said, there are still some issues.

Most of the electric vehicles in Juneau are Nissan Leafs, he said, followed closely by Chevy Bolts with the number of Teslas in town growing. Mitchell estimated there were about 500 electric vehicles in Juneau and said that about 400 of those were Leafs.

But while Nissan’s vehicles are popular, there’s no certified retailer in Juneau, meaning repairs can get expensive as cars need to be shipped to where they can be serviced. Mitchell and other electric vehicle advocates had been in negotiations with Nissan for years and while the company has never said “no,” Mitchell said they similarly haven’t said “yes.”

But the city of Juneau has already worked to help make electric vehicles more attractive locally, Mitchell said, and there were grant programs available to businesses interested in installing charging stations.

The rally is held annually for Earth Day and is one of many such rallies that take place across the country. On Saturday the vehicles left from near Centennial Hall downtown before proceeding to the Mendenhall Valley and ending at Saviko Beach in Douglas.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

An array of electric vehicles wait to beging the Earth Day Electric Vehicle Road Rally held on Saturday, April 17. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

An array of electric vehicles wait to beging the Earth Day Electric Vehicle Road Rally held on Saturday, April 17. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A Lucas White (21) block buys Jarrell Williams (1) more room to work during a 49-32 win against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau cooks up a conference title

Huskies are back-to-back Cook Inlet Conference champs after lopsided win.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Jim Scheufelt, right, explains how his newly purchased Ford Mustang Mach-E operates to a couple of visitors at the ninth annual Juneau EV EBIKE Roundup on Saturday. He said he has always driven Fords because his father worked for the company, but decided this year to make the switch from gas to electric. He said his wife drives a similar model and their son an electric Ford Focus, making them “an all-EV household.” (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
EV owners rally ’round rain, resourcefulness and solar rays

Ninth annual event celebrates Juneau’s electric vehicle growth as one of fastest in U.S.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

j
Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Oil price drop endangers plan to fund Alaska schools a year early

If oil prices fall, amount is automatically reduced to an amount the state can afford. At

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Police Department announces technology and reporting updates

Emergeny services and direct reporting will not be interrupted

Most Read