Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Work to begin soon on Libby's first charging station

Editor | January 14, 2022 7:00 AM

Work is expected to begin on Libby’s first electric vehicle charging station within the next few weeks, city officials said Jan. 3.

Prompted by an inquiry from City Councilor Zach McNew, City Administrator Samuel Sikes tracked down the timeline on the level two charging facility, which is expected to go in near the Libby Chamber of Commerce building.

“I’m told that it should be here in roughly a month,” Sikes announced. “The site is already prepared. They’re going to be installing a meter and hopefully by the end of February it will be up and running.”

Talk of a charging station in Libby emerged in 2020. At the time, representatives from Flathead Electric Cooperative revealed they planned to pursue funding for a level three charging station for the city. The money was administered by the state Department of Natural Resources, said Teri Rayome-Kelly, and came from a massive settlement with automobile manufacturer Volkswagen.

She returned before Libby City Council in June of last year. While the money for the local station had come through, cooperative officials had opted to pass it on to another local applicant with plans to build a charging facility between Libby and Kalispell.

While Libby lost out on a level three station, Rayome-Kelly told city councilors the utility would move ahead with plans for a level two station in town.

Level three stations, which also are known as DC fast charging or supercharging, can add between three and 20 miles of range to an electric vehicle per minute, according to an October 2021 article in Forbes. Level two stations, by contrast, can boost an electric vehicle between 12 and 80 miles per hour.

They are popular among electric vehicle owners for home charging — typically done overnight — and have popped up at public locations across the country, according to Forbes.

Level one charging, which uses a 120-volt power outlet, typically leaves an electric vehicle with three to five miles per hour. Outside factors, like the vehicle’s maximum charge rate and the station output, account for the wide disparity.

With the timeline for completion in hand, Sikes said there was only one decision related to the station left to make: “The question before the mayor and city council is: Do we want some type of ribbon cutting ceremony, as it is the first in Libby?”