By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – Electric vehicle owners will now have a public space to charge their vehicles, as a joint effort between Big Sky’s Town Center and Lone Mountain Land Company comes to fruition. After a summer of construction, boring power lines and installing the units, two EV charging stations came online Aug. 25 and are now ready for use.

Each station can accommodate two plug-in, battery electric vehicles. They are universal charging stations, and are able to charge a variety of electric vehicles at a rate to be paid hourly. These universal charging stations are a part of a growing network of facilities across the Greater Yellowstone Region.

Aware of a growing population of EV drivers, Lone Mountain Land Company sought to bring EV charging stations to Big Sky as a part of a larger initiative.

“We’ve been examining a variety of sustainable solutions within the company,” said LMLC Director of Planning Christina Calabrese. “[People] see this beautiful environment, they see all these natural features. Everything that goes into Big Sky should have that in mind, sustainability.”

Partnering with Big Sky’s Town Center, LMLC applied for a grant funded by the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities initiative. Two $5,000 grants were awarded to fund the Big Sky charging stations and LMLC and the Simkins family split the remaining costs.

“It’s basically a refueling station,” said Ryan Hamilton, project manager for Big Sky Town Center. “It’s a lot easier to do this than to put in a gas station. It’s a green thing.

“Another benefit is we’re literally on the map. There are more and more EV users every day and they can see [Big Sky] on the map,” Hamilton added, describing the maps many EV drivers refer to in order to find charging stations when traveling.

While the Town Center units are the first community EV charging stations, they are not the first charging stations to come to Big Sky. Several years ago, Big Sky Resort installed EV charging stations in the Summit Hotel garage, and according to Chelsi Moy, public relations manager for the resort, the stations are used a couple of times per month by resort guests. “We installed them mostly because we anticipated that guests would be needing them, and that has proven true,” Moy said.

Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, Lone Mountain Land Company, The Big Sky Real Estate Company and Big Sky’s Town Center celebrated a ribbon cutting event in honor of the new charging stations Sept. 13, coinciding with National Drive Electric Week Sept. 9-17.