Plenty of Juice
EV event unveils Oklahoma’s new charging network
Photo by Howie Jackson/WFEC
If Batman drove a pickup, it just might be the all-electric F-150. Rocking a slate black finish, the Ford-tough prototype made its inaugural Oklahoma appearance on November 1 at a special cooperative-sponsored EV event in Norman.
Hosted by Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), the Plug-In To Win Finale concluded a year-long promotional campaign and a $5,000 prize drawing aimed at educating electric cooperative members about all-electric transportation. It also celebrated the unveiling of the statewide EV fast charging network made possible through a collaboration of stakeholders. Francis Renewables, a Tulsa-based company specializing in clean energy services, provided the bulk of the funds necessary to bring the multimillion-dollar project to fruition. WFEC and other electric companies also played a role by providing advice and facilitating meetings.
Addressing the crowd of 200, David Jankowsky, CEO of Francis Renewables, said 110 charging sites will be up and running by January 1. Calling it “the most comprehensive fast charging network in the nation,” Jankowsky said the sites are strategically positioned with a site available within 50 miles of any geographic location.
All sites will offer 5G capability so drivers can connect to wi-fi while charging their car. Once complete, the network will be the third largest EV charging system in the nation, he added.
“We’re here to make sure anyone who wants to drive an EV will never suffer range anxiety again,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for rural Oklahoma to gain business it might not have attracted if it didn’t have this infrastructure.”
- Gary Roulet, WFEC CEO
Easy access to public charging stations, longer range EV batteries, and a growing line of EV makes and models are expected to whet consumer appetite for electric driving.
Jankowsky said by 2035 half of the cars sold in the U.S. will be powered by electricity. While most charging stations are centered in urban areas, Jankowsky credited WFEC staff for having the vision to recognize what EV charging and technology can do for rural Oklahoma.
Gary Roulet, CEO of WFEC, said electric cooperative involvement in the network consisted of helping Francis pinpoint the best locations for charging sites.
“Our part was to get them into rural Oklahoma,” he said. “This is an opportunity for rural Oklahoma to gain business it might not have attracted if it didn’t have this infrastructure.”
Comparing the evolution of EVs to that of wind energy, Roulet said, “If you make the technology available to people, they begin to think why not?”
Rural residents typically drive more miles per day than urban dwellers, so they stand to reap bigger benefits from EV fuel savings. Oklahoma’s low-cost electricity already makes it one of the most affordable states to drive an EV.
State Secretary of Energy Kenneth Wagner said Oklahoma should claim bragging rights for having the cleanest and most affordable energy in the U.S.
“We are one of only four states in the country to get more than 40% of its power from renewable sources,” Wagner said.
As a result, the state is making great strides in reducing toxic emissions. Since 2011, Oklahoma has reduced sulfur oxide emissions by nearly 56%, nitrous oxide by 70%, and carbon dioxide by 40%, he explained.
“Our emissions rating is less than 15% and that’s less than the national average,” he said. “Now we can say we are in the Top 10 for charging infrastructure.”
For more information on EVs, visit: www.myev.com