Client Overview: Alaska
- FLO’s SmartDC™ fast chargers installed in Alaska have features to withstand operating temperatures ranging from minus 40°F to 122°F.
- For GVEA, many reasons compel them to focus again on EVs, including their role in achieving the utility’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 26% by 2030.
That time has arrived again, thanks mainly to the technology advancements and cost reductions responsible for making EVs an appealing choice to drivers around the globe.
For GVEA, many reasons compel them to focus again on EVs, including their role in achieving the utility’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 26% by 2030, and improve Fairbanks’ air quality issues related to PM. Like the case 50 years ago, GVEA remains interested in seeing how EVs can help tackle the continuing challenge of ice fog.
Most importantly, GVEA maintains its commitment to respond to growing EV interest among the 36,000 members it serves. For GVEA, many members wanted readily accessible charging infrastructure wherever they drive in the utility’s service territory. “The first and foremost concern with our members is range anxiety,” McArthur said. “We don’t have a very dense charging network, and the cold weather here can reduce the range of an EV, so our chargers need to be closer than would be the case in the lower 48 [states]. We are very open to working with others to install chargers because we don’t want to duplicate our expanding charging network efforts.”
To that end, GVEA worked with FLO, to install two 50 kW DC fast chargers at the utility’s Fairbanks headquarters last November. The chargers now serve as the northernmost public EV chargers operating in North America.
Since beginning operation, the number of charging sessions has been higher than GVEA expected, with many drivers leaving checkins and positive reviews on PlugShare. Several EV manufacturers have also utilized the chargers to do cold-weather testing in January, February and March, contributing to those increases. What GVEA continues to learn through this deployment will also inform its ongoing efforts to roll out more charging stations.
“We plan to provide charging where there currently isn’t any, and provide charging that links highways and connects communities. We are not offering subsidies for EV purchases, and we always keep in mind that we want to be equitable to all our members. But providing charging is a way to remove barriers to EV adoption.” EVAN MCARTHUR, GVEA’s energy efficiency engineer.
For its part, FLO can help provide GVEA data to inform future decisions about charging infrastructure. Because the charging stations connect to FLO’s more extensive network, the company can continuously monitor charging activity and utilization throughout the region. “The data that FLO collects can help justify an investment in EV charging and provide a good indicator for expansion of EV charging services,” Pelsoci explained. “As EV adoption grows, there will inevitably be a need to expand charging services across all road networks. We’re looking forward to supporting GVEA in developing a robust EV charging ecosystem across Alaska.”
A recent system upgrade saw the department transition to an LED energy system, which resulted in excess available power inside the lighting infrastructure. As part of their commitment to fostering EV adoption inside the city’s limits, the city of Los Angeles aspired to using this excess power to install EV charging infrastructure and combat “range anxiety. In detailing their vision for the project, LABSL articulated a specific set of goals and a unique series of challenges. Early conversations with the utility revealed their intentions for the project to be threefold:
- First, to leverage the department’s existing infrastructure (street lighting poles) for installation, thus reducing the overall cost and timeline for deployment
- Second, to source robust and durable hardware capable of functioning in all the diverse neighborhoods the city of Los Angeles offers
- And finally, to deploy the charging stations in a way that would cover a large geographical range, while servicing the largest percentage of the EV driving community possible.
To address the specific challenges presented by the LABSL, FLO’s team of engineers and technicians had to move quickly to adapt their existing technology to the project at hand. The first step was to analyze the SmartTWO™ charging station, and work to understand how it could be grafted directly into the city’s existing street light infrastructure. Ultimately, FLO worked with the city of Los Angeles to develop a mounting bracket which allowed the stations to be installed on the lighting poles. After several iterations and pilot installations, a bracket was developed which suited the purposes of the initial charging station deployment (See Figure 1). Building on this initial success, FLO’s team of engineers developed additional mounting brackets suitable for a variety of street lighting configurations, and further modified the stations with an auxiliary mounting bracket designed specifically for the cable management system of the SmartTWO™ station.
Durability was a key procurement factor for the city of Los Angeles; specifically, the LABSL was intent on finding charging stations that would remain operable through extreme heat or potential vandalism. Similarly, the modular or “hot swap” element of the SmartTWO™ station, which allows a repair technician to quickly and easily replace broken or malfunctioning components in as little as ten minutes, was also an important factor for the LABSL in choosing FLO as a charging solutions provider. This modular technology assists greatly in maintaining a high station “uptime,” a priority for both EV drivers and station owners.
Alaska Case Study
For its part, FLO can help provide GVEA data to inform future decisions about charging infrastructure.