St. James is one of nine MN communities to earn nation’s first “EV-Ready” designation

June 2024

Charging Smart is a new designation program that prepares and recognizes communities for electric vehicle readiness. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, with Great Plains Institute serving as a lead partner.

This story was originally published by the Region Nine Development Commission

The City of St. James has earned an “Electric Vehicle (EV)-Ready” designation as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Charging Smart Program. This is the first time the DOE has made this designation, and nine Minnesota communities were awarded the distinction in recognition of their work to accelerate the equitable expansion of EVs and EV charging infrastructure.

St. James opened its first dual Level 2 charging station during the city's Climate Smart Week in April 2024. The charging station is located downtown to encourage people to visit local businesses while they charge their vehicle.

Brianna Sanders, St. James Economic Development Director, added, "St. James participated in the Charging Smart program to become familiar with how to regulate and permit electric vehicle infrastructure as well as to provide educational resources to our residents."

Charging Smart Award Ceremony

A woman stands holding up a framed certificate. She appears white with curly brown hair. SHe is smiling as she holds up the certificate that reads "Charging Smart BRONZE" and other small text that is illegible.

St. James Economic Development Director, Brianna Sanders, accepts the Charging Smart certificate. 

Two women pose together in front of a window. The woman on the left appears white with silver hair, she is smiling and wearing a pink blazer. The woman on the right appears white and has dark curly hair. She is holding a framed certificate and smiling.

MN Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer, Jean Wallace presents an EV-Ready designation to the City of St. James. 

A woman stands at a podium smiling. She has dark curly hair and appears white. She is wearing all blue and earrings that look like and eye. Behind her is a large projector screen that is bright and illegible, int he background are plants and a large window.

Diana McKeown of CERTs and GPI, addresses the crowd at the Charging Smart event. 

"St. James participated in the Charging Smart program to become familiar with how to regulate and permit electric vehicle infrastructure as well as to provide educational resources to our residents."

- Brianna Sanders, St. James Economic Development Director

The Charging Smart program helps local governments become leaders in EV deployment by offering free technical assistance to help set and achieve policies that align with recognized best practices to advance EV adoption. Charging Smart aims to reduce EV charger costs and increase the number of EVs in the community while emphasizing the importance of equity, leading to EV access for all residents.

"The Charging Smart team is excited to watch the City of St. James taking the necessary steps to increase EV adoption in their community. We congratulate them on gaining a bronze designation as part of the Charging Smart program's first cohort!" says Kyle Young, MN AmeriCorps Member and Sustainability Project Coordinator with the Great Plains Institute. "With the program expanding nationally, we hope to continue to see progress in increased EV access for St. James and many other communities."

Minnesota is one of five states participating in the pilot phase of the program which launched earlier this year. Ed Gilliland, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) said, “This group of communities demonstrates both the significant impact that local governments can have on EV adoption, and underscores the potential of this program as we prepare to expand it nationally.”

Watonwan County Commissioner Jim Branstad said, "The EV Ready designation shows that St. James is willing to adopt and move forward in the area of climate smart strategies."

Image credits: Will Dunder, Great Plains Institute

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