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Tri-State helps finance fast EV charging stations in rural areas

WESTMINSTER — Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is working with rural power utilities to develop fast electric vehicle charging stations that can operate on existing power networks.

Rural electric networks have less access to three-phase distribution systems, which are typically used to power fast EV charging stations. Three phase systems are used most of the time to power direct-current fast chargers. Installing fast chargers using that technology would require utilities to extend three-phase power lines.

Tri-State, however, recently worked with Highline Electric Association in Holyoke to install a different method for fast charging.

According to a press statement from Tri-State, Highline and FireWire Technologies of Newark, California, used battery-integrated technology found in the FireWire Boost Charger 150 to power a fast charging station on an existing rural electric distribution system.

“The FreeWire direct-current, fast charger is one of the first of its kind in Colorado in that it can use existing  single-phase conductors, in combination with battery storage technology, to charge vehicles with charging times comparable to systems available in the market today,” Dennis Herman, general manager for Highline Electric Association, said in a written statement. “This represents a breakthrough in efforts to offer reasonable charging times with the distribution systems we have available in rural areas.” 

Daniel Zotos, FreeWire’s director of communications, said that FreeWire’s solutions “require minimal electrical infrastructure investment, significantly reducing permitting and installation times. As charging demand continues to surge, we are seeing our ultrafast, battery integrated chargers offer the streamlined, shovel-ready solution that many entering the EV charging space are looking for.”  

Tri-State is financially supporting rural EV charging solutions as part of its electrification goals, said Reg Rudloph, chief energy innovations officer for Tri-State.

The FreeWire charger uses up to a 27-kilowatt source of electricity, from a single-phase conductor, to charge the 160 kilowatt-hour battery. With an EV charging capacity of 150 kW, electric vehicle drivers can generally reach an 80% state of charge within 30-45 minutes, depending on battery size. 

In addition to the lower power input required, use of battery-integrated storage technology permits charging of two cars at once from a single source, Tri-State said.

Highline’s new charging technology was set up at the Wagon Wheel Conoco, just off Interstate 76 near Julesburg. The station is 180 miles from Denver and 30 miles from the next nearest charging station.

Source: BizWest