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Longtime Estes Park businessman Jim Sloan knows firsthand about the “range anxiety” of electric-car drivers after a trip to New Mexico in February when the screen in his Tesla Y was flashing “0 miles” and the outside temperature was below zero.
He was nervously nursing hhis to a fast-charging station south of Trinidad.
The owner of the National Park Village shopping area near the east entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park has installed a fast-charging station for electric vehicles at his business and made space for a second unit. He has also installed two slower-charging stations since buying the site with his daughter in December 2020.
“When we acquired the property, we wanted to increase its sustainability, both for us as investors and for my tenants,” said Sloan, who is also installing 100 kilowatts of solar energy. “My thrust is to accommodate the traveling public visiting the national park and help to overcome their range anxiety.”
The state of Colorado has a goal of getting nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 to help cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The state’s investor-owned utilities and some rural electric cooperatives are investing in charging equipment.
On the federal level, the Biden administration has a target of all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric.
Sloan worked with IPower Alliance and FreeWire Technologies to design and install the charging equipment. FreeWire, whose ultra-fast chargers have a battery embedded in the system, has installed its equipment in about 15 states, the United Kingdom and other countries.
“I care more about these deployments than I do about some of the city deployments we have,” FreeWire CEO Arcady Sosinov said about more remote spots such as Estes Park. “You have to create that feeling of availability for electric vehicle drivers. If there’s even one location they can’t get to, they’re less likely to buy an electric vehicle.”
Sloan said he invested about a quarter of a million dollars of what was supposed to be his retirement money into the chargers and related construction. He received an $18,000 state grant to use for the slower chargers.
Sosinov said the fast charger, what FreeWire calls its Boost Charger, integrates a storage battery that allows the unit to be plugged into the existing grid without a lot of expensive upgrades. Recharging takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
If a charger is used four to six times a day, the investment should pay for itself in three to five years, Sosinov said.
FreeWire, based in San Leandro, Calif., expects to open an advanced technology center in Colorado. Spokeswoman Laurie Peters said in an email the company will announce details in early 2022.
“My vision is I’ll probably have four (ultra-fast) chargers in the future,” Sloan said. “As more and more electric vehicles come online, I want to be there to help encourage it.”
There are several place in Estes Park you can charge your electric car:
Tesla Supercharger, 333 E Wonderview Ave. at the Stanley Hotel
ChargePoint Charging Station, 335 W Elkhorn Ave. at the Estes Valley Library
EV Connect Charging Station, 900 Moraine Ave., National Park Village
Silver Moon Inn, 200 Spruce Drive
Best Western Plus Silver Saddle, 1260 Big Thompson Ave.
Quality Inn, 1450 Big Thompson Ave.
Tesla Destination Charger, 430 Prospect Village Dr., at Sweet Bascilico
Tesla Destination Charger, 2120 Fall River Rd.
Tesla Destination Charger, 1700 CO-66 (at Beaver Brook on the River)
Blink Charging Station, 3110 S St Vrain Ave.
ChargePoint Charging Station, Mountainside Drive (YMCA of the Rockies)
ChargePoint Charging Station, 2515 Tunnel Rd.
The Town’s public charging stations are located on the east side of the Town’s parking structure at 691 N. Saint Vrain Ave. / U.S. 36 (Level 2), on the north side of the Town Hall parking lot, 335 E. Elkhorn Ave. (Level 2), and at 500 Big Thompon Ave. at the Estes Park Visitor Center, (Level 3).
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