BREAKING NEWS Biden, Dems prevail as Senate OKs $1.9T virus relief bill Full Story

Minnesota to expand electric vehicle charging network

Money coming from settlement with Volkswagen over emissions cheating.

Posted: Oct 19, 2019 9:33 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota will spend nearly $1.7 million from its share of the Volkswagen emissions-cheating settlement to expand electric vehicle charging options over the next two years along the state's major highways.

The 22 added charging locations will collectively form a "minimum viable network" across the entire state, said Matthew Blackler, CEO of ZEF Energy, which will build and operate the charging stations.

The only region that will not see any new charging stations is the Twin Cities metro area, where officials determined there was less need. Highways with the most traffic and fewest existing fast chargers were chosen for the first round of investments, Blackler said.

ZEF has already built out much of the existing fast-charging network in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including a fast-charger highway corridor from the Twin Cities to Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior along Interstate 35 and Highway 61. The settlement money will pay for roughly 80% of the cost of the new chargers, leaving ZEF to pay for the rest or find financial partners to contribute in cities being served by the network.

The Twin Cities serves as the hub to the spokes of highways getting new chargers, said Rebecca Place, electric vehicle coordinator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, but the site selection focused less on meeting the needs of the Twin Cities electric vehicle community.

"The complaint now we're hearing is that people in the metro can get out of the metro but people in Greater Minnesota can't get in," she said. "Electric vehicles are spread all over the state; it's not just a metro thing."

___

The nonprofit news outlet Energy News Network provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.

___

None of the new sites are operational but Place expects a handful may be installed by the end of this year. State guidelines limited charging sites to within a mile of state highways or interstates that have access to a retail area open 24 hours a day, Place said.

The sites also must be "future proof" by offering 350 kilowatts of electricity so more chargers can be added later, Place said.

In the first VW settlement round, each site will have one fast charger and two Level 2 charging ports. A 100-mile charge using a fast charger takes 20 to 40 minutes, long enough for a driver to want a snack or something to drink, she said. Level 2 chargers take two to four hours for a 100-mile charge, she added.

Drivers may end up charging for a time with a Level 2 if the fast charger is occupied and then switching to it later. The state VW settlement funded one "supercharger" capable of charging vehicles in 15 minutes that will be in Albert Lea at the intersection of Interstate 35 and Interstate 90.

A handful of cities were pre-selected by the pollution control agency while ZEF mainly manages the specific site selection process within communities along the route, Blackler said.

The responses in those cities came from utilities, investor-owned utilities, city officials and Native American tribes. "People who responded promptly were the people we worked with first," Blackler said, and those tended to be larger organizations that had good community connections.

The communities had to provide potential sites for chargers and show support from local institutions. For the most part the cities were far enough apart to create a viable network, though a few are close together due to proximity to universities that are likely to have greater populations of electric vehcile owners and visitors, Blackler said.

David Ranallo, a spokesman for regional generation and transmission cooperative Great River Energy, said the expansion brings greater equity for electric vehicle drivers living in outstate Minnesota.

"People living in rural areas may have a 50-mile drive to the nearest mall, so they're looking at the proposition of an electric vehicle much differently than someone who lives in the seven-county metro area," he said. "This infrastructure will boost their confidence to really consider that choice."

Minnesota is receiving $47 million for the VW settlement that will be spent in three phases over 10 years. Under the agreement, states can spend 15% of the money on charging networks. Minnesota is doubling charging station expenditures in the second phase.

Place is currently planning which corridors will receive money during the next four-year funding phase. The plan will likely include highways selected for the first phase as well as new corridors, she said. Communities are adding chargers, making it harder to determine where gaps exist in the system, she said.

"By the time phase 2 gets going there may be cities which already have chargers in them," Place said. "We can't stop innovation. It eventually (will be) like gas stations. The more the merrier."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 488170

Reported Deaths: 6602
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1012851589
Ramsey43273808
Dakota36543394
Anoka33430390
Washington22183261
Stearns18786202
St. Louis14866265
Scott13381107
Wright12580116
Olmsted1184890
Sherburne877174
Carver783241
Clay694587
Rice672291
Blue Earth599635
Kandiyohi580674
Crow Wing522782
Chisago501045
Otter Tail485570
Benton449290
Winona420049
Mower410031
Douglas393768
Goodhue388069
Nobles387147
Polk344663
McLeod340550
Beltrami338751
Morrison326247
Itasca314246
Becker313942
Lyon313844
Isanti308256
Steele303011
Carlton300249
Freeborn285824
Pine282616
Nicollet261541
Todd249230
Brown247237
Le Sueur237420
Mille Lacs229047
Cass221024
Waseca210117
Meeker208134
Martin190629
Wabasha18713
Roseau180917
Hubbard160741
Houston158114
Dodge15384
Renville151640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13908
Pennington137716
Chippewa136835
Cottonwood135920
Wadena131320
Faribault124517
Aitkin119233
Watonwan11798
Sibley117610
Rock116114
Kanabec108119
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9538
Jackson94210
Swift87818
Pope8095
Marshall78415
Stevens7468
Lake74218
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68616
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5122
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson40921
Red Lake3615
Traverse3105
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 336947

Reported Deaths: 5491
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51993559
Linn19497317
Scott17149212
Black Hawk14956293
Woodbury13828214
Johnson1314875
Dubuque12444195
Dallas1021893
Pottawattamie9877146
Story963545
Warren514076
Clinton502184
Cerro Gordo500683
Webster495588
Sioux479869
Marshall464273
Des Moines427961
Muscatine425693
Buena Vista412637
Wapello4042110
Jasper387267
Plymouth368578
Lee354453
Marion341171
Jones285055
Henry279837
Bremer270255
Carroll266649
Crawford253535
Boone244030
Benton240854
Washington239247
Mahaska215746
Jackson209939
Dickinson204140
Tama202865
Kossuth198655
Delaware186140
Clay184425
Winneshiek183228
Fayette179235
Page177919
Buchanan177829
Wright174231
Hamilton173842
Cedar172723
Hardin169839
Harrison167670
Clayton160154
Butler159231
Mills148420
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145541
Allamakee144148
Madison143018
Iowa140323
Hancock138030
Grundy132230
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129411
Cass129251
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123347
Louisa122444
Mitchell120540
Chickasaw119915
Union119131
Sac118718
Shelby117433
Emmet115440
Humboldt113725
Guthrie109628
Franklin109219
Palo Alto101321
Howard99522
Montgomery96936
Clarke95020
Keokuk92529
Monroe89828
Adair81529
Ida81532
Pocahontas80919
Davis76523
Monona76427
Greene73110
Lucas72121
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Unassigned6590
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4769
Wayne47121
Adams3184
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 30°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 28°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 30°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 30°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 26°
Winds will pick up for Sunday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events