A number of southeast communities are powered by low-cost hydroelectricity and have limited road systems--making our region an ideal location for electric vehicles, and a testing ground for the policies and technologies of the future. Underscoring this fact, Alaska was recently highlighted in a Union of Concerned Scientists report on emissions related to electric vehicle charging.
As of 2011, Alaska Electric Light and Power, Juneau's utility, is currently offering a special experimental rate to electric vehicle owners as part of an exploration of the potential for electric vehicles in Juneau. AEL&Ps special rate is available for up to 10 individuals on a first come first serve basis. The rate will be 5.6 cents per kWh during off-peak hours, 10pm - 7 am. Contact AEL&P for more info, (907) 780-2222, or visit their website at http://www.aelp.com/electriccar/carrates.htm.
Local entrepreneur Gerry Herbranson, through his company Solar Wind of Alaska, has been selling low speed electric vehicles for a number of years. The vehicles are from China via California and run on standard lead-acid batteries. They top out at 35 mph and have a range of 30-50 miles. About a dozen are currently on the streets in Petersburg, and represent a low-cost, ideal transportation solution for drivers with compatible lifestyles and needs.
News story on Petersburg's electric vehicles: June 2008.
Tim Pike, Sitka High School shop teacher, and a group of volunteers from the Sitka Global Warming Group converted two vehicles to electric in 2008.
One of the vehicles, a Nissan pick-up truck was converted with a 120 volt system to be used by RecycleSitka. The second vehicle, a Geo Metro was outfitted with a 48 volt system. The Geo Metro is getting 2 to 3 miles per kilowatt hour - less than 4 cents per mile. Because it's a low power system, top speeds are about 35 - 40 mph.
in 2010, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill (SB 59) to allow low-speed electric vehicles to operate on streets with speed limits of 45 mph or less. The law applies to towns with fewer than 35,000 residents and not connected to Anchorage or Fairbanks by roads--basically all Southeast towns! The bill was sponsored by Sitka Senator Bert Stedman and Wrangell Representative Peggy Wilson.
News story: February 2010.