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DRAPER — The state's most traveled freeway is among the first in the nation to go "Live Electric."
Rocky Mountain Power, in conjunction with Utah Clean Air Partnership and Maverik, announced Friday the completion of an electric vehicle corridor along I-15 and more than 350 charging stations statewide.
The multi-entity project called Live Electric — a collaboration of the U.S. Department of Energy, Utah Clean Air Partnership, Utah Clean Cities, and other state and local organizations — is a dedicated effort to develop creative and effective ways to speed the transition to a clean transportation future, explained Rocky Mountain Power CEO Cindy Crane.
Live Electric partners are installing 700 charging stations over the next three years, including fast chargers along the I-15, I-80 and I-70 corridors, Crane said during a news conference at a Maverik station in Draper. The infrastructure means that electric vehicle owners can experience Utah's iconic ski resorts and national parks without worrying about running out of battery life in between, she said.
The total cost of the project was $14 million, with $4 million coming from a U.S. Energy Department grant, explained James Campbell, strategic projects adviser for Rocky Mountain Power. The current network of charging stations is set up with locations between 50 miles to 100 miles. That distance will decrease as the network grows in the coming years as electric vehicle travel is more widely accepted, he added.
Economically speaking, he said charging at Live Electric stations will cost a bit more than charging at home — which is about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, or 80 cents to 90 cents per gallon (of traditional fuel), Campbell said. He noted that charging at a network station would run up to approximately 35 cents per kilowatt-hour in addition to a nominal "connection fee."
"Depending on your battery, it would cost between $10 and $15 to fill up," he said. "It would be between $15 and $20 if it was it was at zero."
"When you add it all up, the total cost of ownership of an electric vehicle is cheaper," Campbell said. "Most electric vehicles don't require maintenance. You dealing with a motor, not an (internal combustion) engine."
He acknowledged that purchasing an electric vehicle can cost more initially, but the long-term expense of ownership is substantially less.
New charging stations installed at Maverik stores in Draper, Farr West, Fillmore, Santaquin, Stansbury, Syracuse, Washington and Wellsville represent a significant contribution to the clean transportation future of the state, explained Maverik CEO Chuck Maggalet.
"We recognize while there is a relatively low fraction of our customers using electric right now, we expect that is going to grow in the future," he said. "We wanted to make sure that our customers are able to recharge their electric vehicles when they are out on their adventures."
He said more stations could be added if demand from electric vehicle owners increases in the coming years.
Thom Carter, executive director of Utah Clean Air Partnership, said increasing the number of electric vehicles on the roads will go a long way toward environmental enhancement in Utah and potentially adding new choices to the selection of vehicles available for purchase by the driving public.
"Completing this corridor really says to consumers now this is a viable (driving) option," he said. "When you're out there buying a car figuring what you can do to affect the air quality of the state, this (project) really does (make it a legitimate transportation alternative)."
Tooele County resident Patrick Wiggins has owned an electric vehicle since 2014. He said having an extended network of charging stations available to travelers is "just what we need."
"Having places like this where you can charge up quickly is one of the major hurdles to people that want to drive electric," he said during the event at the Draper Maverik. "Slowly but surely this is becoming more and more adopted."
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City International Airport also announced the installation of 24 electric vehicle charging ports for public and employee use. The 12 charging stations are dual port, Level 2, with standard connectors to accommodate all models of electric vehicles, according to a news release. The stations include an instructional video for users and will have 24/7 phone support, explained Nancy Volmer, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City International Airport.
A mobile application is also available for download that shows the locations of available airport charging stations, she noted.
"The airport is implementing programs to help improve Utah's air quality," said Bill Wyatt, Salt Lake City Department of Airports executive director. "Come 2020, the new SLC Redevelopment Program will incorporate 50 EV charging stations in the new parking structure."
Rocky Mountain Power split the cost of the installation project, which totaled $306,000, he said.
The airport stations are located in the employee parking lot, economy parking, and parking garage levels P1 and P2, the release stated. In addition, the Touch n' Go Convenience Store near the airport also has one charging station, Volmer said.
There is currently no charge to use the airport stations, she said. Access to all charging stations is on a first-come basis and cannot be reserved in advance, she added.