Powering Strong Communities

New Mexico’s Farmington Electric installing its first public EV chargers

The Farmington Electric Utility System (FEUS) in New Mexico expects to have five public electric vehicle charging stations completed in the next two months.

The Farmington City Council approved the plans for the charging stations last year, and the public power utility has already completed the primary work for four of the five stations. The utility has also already purchased the five dual port charging stations from ChargePoint at a cost of roughly $15,000 each.

“The primary goal of these installations is threefold,” Hank Adair, FEUS’ director, said via email. First is to increase awareness of electric vehicles in the area. Second is to provide choice for the utility’s customers. And third, he said, is that it helps the utility to have another way “to gauge community and customer interest in electric vehicles as our AMI system advances to allow for rate options in the future.”

FEUS does not currently have any special rates or incentives for charging electric vehicles but is in the process of installing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) on its system and is “looking forward to the additional capabilities for consideration in future rate studies,” Adair said.

With one exception, the sites chosen for the charging stations are on city property. The city is in discussions with the Animas Valley Mall to locate a charging station on mall property.

The other sites include locations in downtown Farmington, at the public library, and at two city parks. When completed, the fast charging stations will allow an electric vehicle to drive 25 miles after charging for one hour.

As recommended by Farmington’s utility commission and approved by the city council, the charging stations will have an hourly use charge that will be handled through the ChargePoint process, Adair said.

Farmington Electric Utility System has so far installed one charging center at the city’s municipal operations center. It is used to charge the Nissan Leaf the utility purchased last month to provide its workers the opportunity to learn about maintaining and operating electric vehicle charging stations.

Other than the utility charger, the city of Farmington has a couple of Tesla charging stations at hotels in the area, but they can only charge Tesla vehicles.

“We are excited to have our first installations on our system,” Adair said. The chargers are being located in parts of the city where the public spends time,” he said. “We will monitor the data to see how much the stations are actually being used to determine our next installation in the future.”

Farmington Electric is a very rural utility, and electric vehicle penetration remains very low, Adair said. So far, the focus on installing electric vehicle charging stations has been on interstate corridors. “I expect as charging stations expand into the highway systems in the state the interest could possibly increase.”

Earlier this month, the Federal Highway Administration announced the first designation of alternative fuel corridors in New Mexico. The designation allows New Mexico to participate in the national transition to alternative fuels across state borders. Federally designated corridors include routes that have electric, hydrogen, propane, or natural gas stations.

For designation as an alternative fuel corridor, the Federal Highway Administration requires electric vehicle charging stations at 50-mile intervals or at 100-mile intervals for hydrogen stations.

Prior to the designation, New Mexico was one of only four states without designated alternative fuel corridors. Before the inclusion of New Mexico, the Federal Highway Administration had designated 135,000 miles along the national highway system as alternative fuel corridors.

The application was submitted by the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, utility company PNM Resources, and the Land of Enchantment Clean Cities Coalition.

“New Mexico is now part of this nation-wide initiative to help people find electric vehicle charging stations and alternative fuel locations across the state,” Sarah Cottrell Propst, cabinet secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said in a statement.