It’s anticipated that by the year 2040, manufacturers will sell more electric vehicles (EVs) than gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles combined. With improvements to battery technology and a growing list of models on the market, EV sales are surging. With more EVs on the road, the need for reliable charging infrastructure has never been more important.
While most EV drivers set up a charging station at home, that option doesn't address the charging needs for those who are traveling cross country. To reach a meaningful charge quickly while traveling, EV drivers rely on public commercial chargers which have to meet the power requirement of a Direct-Current, Fast-Charger (DCFC). With the power requirement, DCFCs are not as readily available or are not in optimal locations, which limits where rural utilities can place them.
This is where California-based FreeWire Technologies hopes to change the nature of the game and help alleviate range anxiety for consumers, through the unique use of existing single-phase rural distribution systems and battery storage technology. Supported by Tri-State, Highline Electric Association (HEA) is working with FreeWire Technologies to lead the charge quite literally in northeast Colorado. Through the Responsible Energy Plan, Tri-State committed $45k to each member co-op and public power district to extend the public electric vehicle charging network across members’ service areas and to promote EVs and EV solutions in rural areas.
HEA recently used those funds, as well as additional funds through the Charge Ahead Colorado grant, to successfully install and deploy the FreeWire® Boost™ 150 Charger near Julesburg, Colorado. The FreeWire charger has an EV charging capacity of 150 kW, which means EV drivers can generally reach an 80% state of charge within 30-45 minutes. This opens up opportunities for more charging stations throughout HEA’s service territory and potentially the state, where charging times would otherwise be much longer.
“Our FreeWire direct-current, fast-charger is one of the first of its kind in Colorado,” said Dennis Herman, general manager for HEA. “The installation of infrastructure like this charger will help to alleviate range anxiety and help in the adoption of electric vehicles going forward.”
HEA and FreeWire have set up their latest charging technology at the Wagon Wheel Conoco just off the heavily traveled U.S. Interstate 76 near Julesburg, Colorado. The charging station is strategically located 180 miles from Denver, and 30 miles west from the next DCFC charging station.
HEA hopes to collect data on the charging station and expand its use to other locations in the rural electric cooperative’s service territory. In addition to the use of battery storage technology to charge EVs in 30-45 minutes, the new charging station also has the ability to charge two cars at once from a single source, another time saver for consumers.
Tri-State is a wholesale power supply cooperative, operating on a not-for-profit basis, with 45 members, including 42 utility electric distribution cooperative and public power district members in four states that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State, visit www.tristate.coop.