Drive Electric Minnesota partnership charged up, rolling, and welcoming newcomers

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The Minnesota DNR's Chevy Volt

Drive Electric Minnesota is a partnership of local and state government, our largest utility, private business and nonprofit entities working in collaboration to bring electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in charging infrastructure to Minnesota. We spoke with Fran Crotty at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to learn more.

Joel Haskard: Tell us a little bit about Drive Electric Minnesota.

Fran Crotty: Through the Drive Electric Minnesota partnership we have been able to get our state ‘EV Ready’ through the installation of EV charging stations and the procurement of electric vehicles by public fleets. We have also been able to provide public education about EVs through events, media coverage, and our web page.

For example, the City of Saint Paul has 14 charging stations installed in public ramps. Hennepin and Ramsey County, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, Xcel Energy as well as the Cities of Saint Paul, Minneapolis and the state now each have Ford Transit Connect all-electric utility vans in their fleets (pictured below). The use of this vehicle varies from parts delivery, mail delivery, and daily water sample delivery by the MPCA to the MN Department of Health. In Minneapolis this vehicle replaced a Ford F-250 pick-up truck for parts delivery to markedly reduce air pollution emissions. A number of these public entities have also purchased Chevy Volts, like the one owned by the DNR (pictured above).

Xcel Energy's Ford Transit Connect We look forward to continuing to support and encourage use of EVs and installation of charging infrastructure throughout Minnesota.

Joel: What are some of the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs)?

Fran: Full electric vehicles (EVs) have zero emissions from the tailpipe and are many times more efficient than a gasoline-powered car. This means a much lower cost for ‘fuel’ of 2 to 3 cents per mile and much less maintenance expense due to fewer moving parts. Electric vehicles can be powered by locally-produced renewable wind or solar generated electricity. This ability to directly use renewable energy is unique to EVs.

This is good for our environment since there are no emissions during the generation of the electricity from renewable sources and there is no air pollution emitted while the vehicle is being driven. In addition, local energy production also benefits the local economy and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

Joel: Is there a good way for people to find electric vehicle charging stations now?

Fran: The best place to look for charging station locations is a national map. The City of Saint Paul also has a great charging station location map for the city.

Joel: If private companies, local units of government, or not-for-profits want to get involved in Drive Electric Minnesota, what can they do?

Fran: We welcome new members, and you can learn more on our website. If anyone is interested in their business or organization becoming a member they can contact me at fran.crotty@state.mn.us or 651-757-2297. The list of current members is on our webpage. We have remote access to our meetings through WebEx so there is no need to travel to attend and participate.

Check out a video on Drive Electric Minnesota and the Ford Transit Connect vehicles being used by several groups:

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