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Cooperatives partner to bring electric cars, level three charging stations to Minot

Verendrye Electric Cooperative and Enerbase Cooperative Resources have joined forces to install the first level three electric car charging stations in North Dakota.

With Verendrye supplying the electricity and Enerbase supplying the facility, the first charging station should be up and running this summer inside the Enerbase Travel Center next to the Cenex gas station located on the north side of Minot at 4750 Highway 83.

Currently, level three chargers are non-existent in North Dakota. After installation is complete, plans are to have about 12 or so new charging stations installed throughout the state. For level two charging stations, there are approximately 20 available to the public.

Tom Rafferty, Member Services/Communications manager and test driver of Verendrye Electric’s Chevy Bolt EV, said the local Nissan and Toyota dealerships in town are operating level two chargers. The Chevrolet dealer has one located inside their showroom, but access to the public is not available. He said there’s a chance that more level two’s would be installed soon at the main office located at 1225 Highway 2 Bypass East, Minot, that could be free to the public.

There are three types of chargers offered. The level three charger puts out 62,000 watts of power, achieving an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Resembling the prong on your ordinary dryer, electric stove or welder is the 220-volt level two outlet. Level two chargers offer 25 miles per range for an hour’s charge. Level one is your standard 110-volt three-prong cord that plugs into a typical home outlet. A one hour charge will provide a range of up to three miles. It will take about 80 hours or over three days to charge fully.

The Chevy Bolt would cost approximately 10 cents per kilowatt-hour when charging from home. With its 66-kilowatt battery, 550-volt lithium-ion battery pack, the cost per full charge with the Level three charger would be $6.60. Equivalent to its sticker price, the Bolt receives 118 miles per gallon. The miles per kilowatt-hour if you average three miles a day would cost you 3.3 cents per mile compared to a gas vehicle that gets 30 mpg would cost you 8.3 cents a mile with gas at $2.50 a gallon.

Rafferty says the production of electric cars is starting to grow in North Dakota. The plan with level three charging stations is to build more electric vehicles for the consumer.

“It’s the chicken or the egg, said Rafferty. “There are different reasons people aren’t buying more (electric) than they would normally. Part of that is there are no charging stations. You’ll need more charging stations before producing more electric cars–there’s not many charging stations because there aren’t many electric cars across the state. So, would you want to buy (electric) when there’s nowhere to charge them? Would a business want to put up a charging station if nobody’s going to use it? So it goes both ways.”

The cost of the project is approximately $72,000. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality will provide 80% of the funding in the form of a grant from the $8.1 million settlement from Volkswagon. The car company violated the federal clean air act by installing devices on vehicles that ultimately helped them falsely pass certain emissions testings. The total compensation for the United States was $14.7 billion, and each state received a portion of funds. The remaining 20% will be split between Verendry and Enerbase.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt on the installation of the charging station. Production is on hold at the moment, but they’re planning to move forward this summer. Rafferty, at least for a while, will continue to write informative articles inside the North Dakota Living Magazine about the electric cars and the progress of the charging stations.

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