Expanding the electric vehicle charging network in the state

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Opinion editor’s note: Editorials They represent the views of the Star Tribune editorial board, which operates independently of the newsroom.

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It’s just part of our culture, whether it’s driving to see family or friends, taking trips to the cabin, BWCA or the North Shore – or just exploring all that the upper Midwest has to offer. Minnesotans love hitting the road.

While making these trips, drivers need to know they can refuel along the way. That’s why, when it comes to considering electric cars, many buyers hesitate based on what’s known as “range anxiety.” They fear the kind of problems that Star Tribune reporter Christopher Vondracek described last fall when he said: Can’t charge EV between the Twin Cities and Alexandria.

For this reason, it’s welcome news to be a Minnesota state agency Plans for construction More fast-charging stations for electric vehicles on highways across the state. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently announced its plan to spend $14 million, the last of $47 million in Volkswagen settlement money the state received after the car company was found to have cheated on federal emissions standards.

the MPCA It wisely expects to spend $2 million of the $14 million on about 13 new charging stations in greater Minnesota. This investment is expected to expand the statewide charging network by more than 2,500 miles. Most of the remaining funds will go toward helping school districts replace about 50 school buses and companies replace dozens of diesel trucks and other heavy equipment.

The MPCA Volkswagen settlement is one of the two major funding sources for Minnesota’s public electric vehicle plug-in network. The second is an infusion of $68 million in federal money from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 — money that will be used over the next five years to build freight corridors along Interstate 94 from Wisconsin to North Dakota and Interstate 35 from Iowa to Duluth before expanding. . To other highways.

This is part of the $5 billion the Biden administration is investing in a national electric vehicle charging network through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula program. Once complete, the charging network is expected to serve approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the United States

The goal of expanding the network of EV charging stations is for EV owners to have the same level of confidence on long trips as those who drive gas cars, Rocky Sisk, MPCA’s Volkswagen project leader, told an op-ed writer.

According to the state Department of Transportation websiteThere are approximately 2,000 charging stations in the state. Although there are good apps and websites that can help drivers map routes and find stations, sometimes they’re too far apart, don’t have enough plug-ins, or don’t have faster chargers. Some stations did not work due to vandalism or a technological glitch that did not accept credit cards properly.

During this last cold stretch, News coverage He highlighted the problems Chicago motorists faced with their electric vehicles losing battery life due to weather and finding long lines at charging stations.

For electric vehicles to gain full trust from the public, it is critical that government and private entities continue to build out the network of charging stations in Minnesota and across the country.

“The goal is to reduce range anxiety, especially in rural areas,” the MPCA’s Sisk said of this state’s effort. We applaud this focus on basics.

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