Last Thursday, Mayor Greg Labbe met with representatives from Xcel Energy, Alliance Electric Solutions and Sturgeon Electric Company to plan the installation of Leadville’s first publicly-accessible electric vehicle charging station.
Slated to be installed at the southern end of Harrison Avenue in the parking lot adjacent to Cycles of Life, the charging station will predominantely be paid for by two grants the city was awarded in January. One grant was awarded by Charge Ahead Colorado for the charging station itself; the other from Xcel Energy for the running of power to the charging station.
As part of a scenic byway known as Top of the Rockies, Labbe said Leadville needs to have accommodations for electric vehicles. Currently, there are no public charging stations along the 80-mile stretch of highway that runs from I-70 over Tennessee Pass and into Aspen via Independence Pass. And though Colorado Mountain College installed a charging station on its campus a few years ago, it is not necessarily advertised for public use, Labbe said.
“We want there to be a certain level of comfort for those traveling over the mountains with electric vehicles,” Labbe explained. “And there’s an element of pride and ownership, as well. We want to be a part of progress.”
The level three charging station will fully charge a battery in 30 minutes and will have two ports that can only be used one at a time: one port for Teslas and Nissans, and another port for other types of electric vehicles.
Labbe said the project will conclude no later than June 30, and possibly sooner, depending on how long it takes to get power to the site. The project will cost the city about $8,000 after the two grants.
Xcel Energy engineers will soon work to run power from a transformer on the southern wall of the Grab & Go on Harrison Avenue just a few feet to East Third Street, where they will build another type of transformer near the sidewalk. Then Xcel will use a boring machine to dig beneath Harrison Avenue to the parking lot across the street.
Project Manager Matt Remuick, who works for Sturgeon Electric, said that six to ten small potholes will need to be dug on Harrison Avenue despite its recent paving last summer. Remuick said the road will remain otherwise unphased by the project.
Once the power lines are in place, which Labbe hopes will happen by the end of May, Alliance Electric Solutions (AES) will install the charging station in two to three days. AES owner Jim Rio said his company, which is based out of the Front Range, often works with Xcel on these types of projects, and that AES has installed over 1,000 charging stations throughout Colorado in the last few years.
Signs will be installed along Harrison Avenue that will direct users to the charging station’s location. Labbe said he will push for a level two charging station in the same parking lot next year.
“Some people won’t love the charging stations,” said Labbe, who acknowledged that many locals don’t own electric vehicles. “But we are going to see more electric vehicles on the road and we want to be ahead of the curve.”
Others, like Brian Feddema of Cycles of Life, are supportive of charging stations being installed around Leadville. “Why not?” said Feddema. “I think it’s a great idea.”