Rocky Mountain Power electric vehicle charging stations could soon jolt Laramie into an era of smart mobility.
With a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the power company is proposing to develop 1,500 miles of electric highway corridors along interstates throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.
“We wanted every major community to have not only charging stations but also have the ability to develop electric car sharing and electric busses or bikes,” Rocky Mountain Power External Communications Director Paul Murphy said. “They call it ‘smart mobility.’”
Although Wyoming’s routes along Interstate-80 are not slated to receive charging stations until the third year of the project, Rocky Mountain Power Legislative Policy Advisor James Campbell said the company would not be opposed to installing stations sooner if there was a large enough market demand for them.
“Our goal is to have enough charging stations to help electric vehicles go from Disneyland to Yellowstone and everywhere in between,” Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO Cindy Crane says in a news release.
The company’s target is to use the grant to double the number of electric vehicles in the region to more than 50,000 cars in the next 10 years, which could result in an annual reduction of 251 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and about 25 million gallons of gasoline, according to the press release.
“The plan is to put fast-charging stations every 100 miles along (the company’s proposed) route,” Murphy said. “We will be putting (charging stations) along I-80, but we will also be putting them in communities as well.”
In Wyoming, the company’s proposed electric highway route would follow I-80 starting in Laramie and continue west to the Utah border with an additional section of U.S. Highway 191 between Rock Springs and Yellowstone National Park.
Campbell said the company has not mapped out locations for the charging stations yet, but they plan to install 65 direct current fast charging stations, 635 alternate current level two charging stations and 1,350 residential charging stations throughout the next four years.
“Right now, the (electric vehicle) industry is still in its infancy,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, we’ll get the industry started and at some point the free market will take over.”
Rocky Mountain Power was given the grant with the idea the company could form a model for installing charging stations along interstate corridors, Murphy said.
“Right now you can go and get gas anywhere,” he said. “But you can’t do the same for electricity.”
Campbell said the company would like to install the charging stations near interstate exits, at rest stops and in customer’s homes.
“We would work with cities on where they would like to put them,” Murphy said. “Basically, it’s a parking space. The charging stations look like a skinny, tall gas pump.”
According www.plugshare.com, a website that maps electric vehicle charging stations, Laramie currently has two charging locations — the Downtown Xenion Motel, 165 N. Third St., and Laramie KOA, 1271 W. Baker St.
Downtown Xenion Motel spokesperson Matt Munoz said the motel has a charging port and plans to upgrade to a 2-to 4-port charging station in the spring.
Laramie KOA could not be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.
“We would love to work with the University of Wyoming,” Campbell said. “But as a last resort, if we can’t find any partners, we would put them on our property.”
UW Institutional Communications Director Chad Baldwin said UW does not currently have any charging stations. Because the university’s leaders have not discussed electric vehicle charging stations, he said he could not comment on the possibility of a partnership with Rocky Mountain Power in the future.
The grant is also slated to help businesses purchase electric vehicles, evaluate the impact of the charging stations on the electric grid and build community partnerships to develop smart mobility programs.