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More EV chargers planned

Company founded by lawmaker expects new sites in four cities

CASPER - Electric vehicle drivers are about to have a lot more charging options in Wyoming.

OtterSpace, a company founded in 2021 by state Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, announced Monday that it plans to install fast charging stations - also known as level 3 chargers - in Lander, Dubois and Pinedale this year, along with a number of slower level 2 chargers in downtown Laramie.

The first of the three fast chargers OtterSpace is building, a 120-kilowatt station in Lander, is set to break ground this month at the Fremont County Pioneer Museum and be in operation by early June.

It'll be followed by a 200-kilowatt station at the Dubois Museum and a 120-kilowatt station at a public parking lot in Pinedale.

Pinedale Mayor Matt Murdock said in a statement that the station "will give Pinedale area residents more transportation options while allowing us to welcome a broader tourism base to strengthen local businesses."

Additional charging stations are expected to follow at the Riverton Museum and other not-yet-named sites over the next few years, OtterSpace said.

The limited availability of charging stations along Wyoming roads make many parts of the state challenging, if not impossible, to traverse in an electric vehicle.

OtterSpace wants to open more of the state to those drivers - starting with the most popular routes.

"Pinedale, Dubois and Lander are all places where we really expect a lot of traffic," said Kristen Gunther, the company's vice president. "For our first round of projects," she added, "we were really trying to think about where traffic is going to be ... and trying to get projects in the ground that will actually meet the needs of a growing class of drivers that we know are increasingly looking to use those routes."

The Wyoming Department of Transportation has identified the highways used heavily by out-of- state travelers, particularly those near Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as priority sites for electric vehicle charging stations. (Federal officials rejected most of Wyoming's requests last year to modify its use of Infrastructure Law charging funds to better meet local needs, frustrating the state and many electric vehicle advocates.)

OtterSpace officials anticipate that a lot of its stations' early demand will come from tourists.

But they are hopeful that the growing network of public chargers throughout the state will prompt more Wyoming residents to buy electric vehicles, too.

"As you increase the infrastructure on the ground, that makes it possible for folks to travel through Wyoming with increasing ease," Gunther said. "We don't want it to feel like a sacrifice that you're making. If you decide to live in Wyoming and have an EV, we want it to be seamless. We'd like it to be easy for anybody using the roads."

The level 2 chargers planned for Laramie will be installed near stores and restaurants, Gunther said, so that "people have the capacity to kind of pass through,stop for a few hours, visit, charge their EV and, again,not be worried about range."

Todd Feezer, Laramie's assistant city manager, said in a statement that local leaders are excited about the addition to their downtown.

This story was published on May 10, 2023.