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Pitkin County to boost electric vehicle service

An electric vehicles charges up at a station at the Pitkin County Public Works facility near the airport Tuesday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Pitkin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to spend $16,000 to build a quick-charging station for electric vehicles at the county’s public works facility near the airport.

That Level 3 station will be available to the public and will be built using another $16,000 from the Governor’s Energy Office’s Charge Ahead Program, said Brian Pettet, the county’s director of public works. The Level 3 station will allow a regular electric vehicle to fully charge in about 20 minutes, said Jonah Frank, county fleet manager.

The county already has four Level 2 charging stations at the public works facility, which are available to the public but aren’t used by the public, Pettet said. Those stations charge most electric cars in four to six hours, Frank said.

“We need to get the word out (to the public about those stations),” Commissioner Patti Clapper said.

The stations are located at the public works facility’s main complex in the upper parking lot right at a U-shaped turn into the facility, Frank said.

All five stations, including the Level 3 station yet to be built, will cost the county about $5,000 a year to operate, Pettet said in a memo to commissioners. The stations currently offer a free charge, though they have the option to cost money as well.

“When the line backs up to use them, then we’ll look at charging,” Clapper said.

Commissioner George Newman asked about locating the Level 3 charging station somewhere more convenient like the airport or the hospital. But Pettet said the infrastructure to provide the Level 3 station’s 50 kilowatts of power is prohibitively expensive to install but already exists at the public works facility.

The county purchased three fully electric Nissan Leaf vehicles last year through an air-quality grant. Pettet said they’ve been used for about four months and are working well. With snow tires, they get around nicely in the winter, have had no mechanical issues and have so far saved the county $275 in fuel costs compared with a Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, according to a memo from Pettet.

The cars have a 90-mile range in the summer and a 70-mile range in the winter, according to Pettet’s memo.

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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