City of Wadena installs first electric vehicle charging station

July 2021

The City of Wadena recently installed its first electric vehicle charging station and hosted a Ride and Drive event to raise awareness about EV technology, joining a growing number of Greater Minnesota communities prioritizing electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

We connected with City of Wadena Utilities Superintendent David Evans to learn more about the city’s project, which was supported by a CERT Seed Grant.

Electric vehicles are on their way… we just want to be able to have people understand that we’re supportive of the technology.

David Evans, Utilities Superintendent, City of Wadena

Installing electric vehicle charging downtown

The City of Wadena recently installed a two-port electric vehicle (EV) charging station in a high traffic area adjacent to downtown near Burlington Northern Park, The City completed the installation in November 2020, with support from a Central CERT Seed Grant. The charger is powered by renewable energy and helps familiarize residents in the rural area with electric vehicle technology.

“Electric vehicles are on their way… we just want to be able to have people understand that we’re supportive of the technology,” Evans told the Wadena Pioneer Journal in recent coverage about the City’s efforts.

The location also promotes users who are charging their vehicles to visit the City’s downtown area, since a typical charge time takes about two hours for the type of unit installed.

“The manufacturer of the charging unit has an app and website that show the status of the charging unit — if it is available and if it is currently in use how much longer a connected vehicle has remaining before the charge is complete,” Evans said.

In addition to serving local community members, Wadena’s location at the intersection of three major state highways allows those traveling across the state to recharge their cars, as well.

Photo caption: Electric vehicle charging station installed in downtown Wadena near Burlington Northern Park.

Ride and drive event to promote EVs

In May 2021, the City of Wadena hosted a community Ride and Drive event for area residents to promote the new charging station and familiarize them with electric vehicle technology.

Held near the newly installed charger, the City planned the event to make sure it fell in the late afternoon and early evening, when community members were likely available and when downtown stores are open later for shopping.

Local auto dealerships brought two different electric vehicle models to test drive. The City of Wadena’s supplemental power supplier Missouri River Energy Services brought a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, as well.

“The Ride and Drive event had great feedback from those who attended,” Evans said. “Those who test drove were very impressed with the drivability and power of the EV cars and by the low cost to recharge.”

The event also boasted catering from a local restaurant and food truck and included an LED light bulb giveaway, to attract more attendees. The city had postponed an earlier iteration of the event planned for June 2020, which had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Focus on the events being fun and informational with no pressure to sell or sign up for anything.

David Evans, Utilities Superintendent, City of Wadena

Lessons learned to build on

Building on the success of their charger installation and Ride and Drive event, the City of Wadena will next explore additional locations for charging within the City, hoping to install a fast-charging unit next.

In the meantime, Evans hopes to work with the Wadena Chamber of Commerce to enlist downtown businesses in helping promote the recently installed charger by offering discounts or special promotions for customers who are waiting for their vehicles to charge.

Evans outlined several pieces of advice for other Greater Minnesota communities looking to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“I would recommend ordering the charging unit well in advance of the desired installation date,” Evans said. “Be sure to have operations and promotions for any EV chargers prior to the anticipated travel and tourism peak in your area.”

Other recommendations included investing in and timing advertising and events to draw in larger crowds.

“Focus on the events being fun and informational with no pressure to sell or sign up for anything,” Evans added.

  • Clean Energy Focus: Electric vehicle charging station (powered by renewable energy); Ride and Drive event
  • Central CERT Seed Grant: $4,500
  • Total Project Cost: $15,648
  • Other Funds: City of Wadena budget and Missouri River Energy Services rebate
    Project Team: David Evans and Joe Peters, City of Wadena Utilities Department; Crystal Riddle, Chamber of Commerce; Amy Collins and Lisa Fischer, Missouri River Energy Services; Dylan Spader, Marthaler Chevrolet in Glenwood; Jacob Juettner, Juettner Motors in Alexandria
    People Involved and Reached: 1,267
  • Annual Energy Savings: 79,614,581 BTUs saved (including 968 gallons of gasoline) and 4,500 kWh (or 30,708,000 BTUs) of renewable energy demanded

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