Installation of 22 charge stations to serve Electric Vehicle (EV) drivers in Minnesota

History in the making as a private corporation commences installing an intensive network of fast-charging stations along Minnesota’s major highways. The private company’s plan is part of the Volkswagen’s cheated-emission compensation to install a fast-charging station outside Minnesota’s metropolitan area. It only takes about 30 to 40 minutes to completely charge an EV using the fast-chargers, comparative to the existing Level 2 chargers that take much longer. ZEF Energy is the corporation awarded the state’s contract to install fast-charging stations outside the Twin Cities metropolitan region with an existing robust network. 

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency made a budgetary allocation of approximately $1.7 million from Volkswagen’s compensation money for the mega installation of the fast-charging stations. The plan is to complete the network of initial fast-charging port-stations by October. In late August, the agency announced another initiative to use $2.6 million from Volkswagen’s spending to finance a new network of 38 additional fast-charging stations within the greater Minnesota. The agency is yet to announce the partner selected for this second installation phase.

ZEF Energy controls approximately 80% of the current network of fast-chargers in the Upper Midwest and uses regional suppliers to build its Level 2 chargers. Currently, the company operates in 15 states, and its newly completed contract is the charging project at Indianapolis International Airport. However, the state’s share of grant money does not finance the entire costs incurred in building the network of fast-chargers prompting Blackler to seek partnership with business sponsors. Moreover, local utilities and civil servants assisted in locating sites for the construction and accessibility of the stations acceptable to the communities living in the areas of St. Cloud, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Rochester, Albert Lea, Mankato, and Marshall. Blackler labeled the process of finding suitable sites as very time-consuming.

ZEF Energy plans to construct fast-charging stations in parking lots close to retails areas, allowing visitors to enjoy refreshments or take walks as their vehicles recharge. Most private car parks turned down the offer, saying it minimizes space, so Blackler opted for government-owned parking lots close to retail establishments. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency anticipates that the fast-charging network’s establishment facilitates the transition to zero-emission transportation. 

Statistics indicate that fossil-fuel-powered vehicles contribute to 70% of the emission from the state’s transport sector. Rebecca Place, the EV coordinator at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said that the state plans to attain 20% electricity-powered light-duty vehicles by 2030, a crucial initiative towards achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. In summary, Minnesota’s strategy to fund the installation of fast-chargers fosters transition to cleaner energy-powered transportation.