Earlier this spring, 100 electric vehicle (EV) stakeholders gathered for a day-long event, “EV-olution: Charging Ahead with Electric Vehicles in Minnesota Communities,” held at the at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The event brought together people from 35 cities, state agencies, all of Minnesota major electric utilities, and nonprofits working in the EV space to accelerate the transition to an electrified transportation system.

Attendees received updates on the latest actions taken by Minnesota cities involved in “Cities Charging Ahead!” (CCA), a project led by the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams that includes peer cohorts of 28 cities across MN exploring what it means to be electric-vehicle ready. The event also included a keynote address by Mike Salisbury from the City of Denver, CO, and a discussion of what comes next for communities that want to increase EV adoption.

 

Cities Charging Ahead! Peer cohort small group discussions

The morning session of the event was limited to members of the CCA project to discuss their progress over the past year. It was the first time that the CCA-project cities across the state came together in person; previously, they met regularly in regional cohorts. In small groups, participants shared barriers, opportunities, and needs they have going forward.

 

Inspiring goals from the City of Denver

Keynote speaker Mike Salisbury, transportation energy lead at the City and County of Denver, described the electric EV initiatives underway in Denver including:

  • Expanding publicly available charging stations on city and private properties
  • Electrifying rideshare vehicles
  • Electrifying carshare vehicles
  • Meeting the goal of 200 EVs in the city fleet by 2020

 

An EV vision for Minnesota

Rebecca Place, electric vehicle program coordinator at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, provided the context for EV adoption going forward from Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption: A Vision for Minnesota,” which was released in February by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Transportation with assistance from the Great Plains Institute. The purpose of the document is to:

  • Highlight the benefits of EVs
  • Describe the current state of play
  • Provide a vision for greater adoption
  • Outline possible strategies for getting there

The recently released vision lays out strategies for powering 20 percent light-duty vehicles with electricity by 2030, which is how many EVs will be needed to achieve a Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act target reduction for the light-duty vehicle sector by 2030. It focuses on light-duty vehicles because they are readily available and are the leading contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector. Rebecca also talked about what the vision is NOT:

  • Funded
  • A package of policies the state government is committing to pursuing
  • A document that reflects engagement from around the state
  • A set infrastructure plan
  • Directing Volkswagen settlement funding

 

What’s next for the Volkswagen settlement?

Rebecca Place also shared an update on the status of the Volkswagen settlement funds in Minnesota. Phase I is about halfway done; remaining grants include one to replace on-road heavy-duty diesel trucks that will be open soon with $4.1 million available and ‘Heavy Duty Electric’ grants available this spring. Previous Phase I grants included:

  • Minnesota Clean Diesel Non-Road Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant
  • EV Level 2 charging station grants (anticipate winners to be announced this spring)
  • EV fast-charging station grants (almost complete)
  • School bus replacement grants

Phase II, a clean slate from Phase I, will take place from 2020-2023, providing an additional $23.5 million in funding. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is developing their engagement plan and will be seeking input for what to keep, change, start, and stop. You can sign up for emails to receive updates: www.pca.state.mn.us/vw

 

Cities recognized for their efforts

Several CCA cities received matchbox models of EVs along with recognition for their above and beyond achievements and efforts over the past year including:

  • “Leading the Way,” City of Elk River
  • “Best Ensemble,” City of Red Wing
  • “Rookie of the Year,” City of Coon Rapids
  • “True Believer,” Marine on the St. Croix
  • And a special award for the City of St. Paul for “CCA Best Friends Forever”

Panels in the afternoon featured key topics the CCA project focused on throughout the year: fleets, charging, and private development. Several CCA members presented on the panels, sharing activities they worked on over the past year. Among other efforts, we heard about a very uniquely-financed electric charging station in Red Wing, an analysis of the City of Faribault’s fleet, and EV-ready standards developed by the City of St. Louis Park.

Panelists made it clear that Minnesota cities are taking steps to pave the way for transportation electrification.

Taking the pulse of the attendees through interactive polling

Live polling provided an interactive aspect to the event. CCA members shared one word that came to their minds as they thought about the past year. The most common responses were “resources” and “momentum” (see all responses in the graphic below). When asked who most needs to know about the resources shared at the event, many attendees responded with “everyone.”

What’s next?

We closed the day with small table discussions about what comes next for communities to accelerate the adoption of EVs and to become “EV ready.”

Cities are passionate to “charge ahead” with the adoption of EVs, which is evident after listening to what they have worked on and what they plan to explore in the future.

The CCA effort will officially wrap up at the end of June. The tools and resources developed as part of this effort will be packaged and promoted to cities and other communities across Minnesota interested in exploring EV readiness themselves starting in the fall.

Thanks again to our sponsors who made EV-olution possible: Sourcewell, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Connexus Energy, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Center for Energy and Environment, Siemens, Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, Southern Municipal Power Agency, Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, Greenlots, and Nissan.

To stay connected about EV-related news, projects, and resources, sign up for the Drive Electric MN newsletter.

 

Cities Charging Ahead!

Led by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), Cities Charging Ahead! (CCA) is a peer cohort of 28 cities across MN exploring what it means to be “electric-vehicle ready” through individual and collective action on fleets, charging infrastructure, and private development guidance.

 

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