Roseau Electric Cooperative brings electric vehicle experience to northern Minnesota
The couple’s son converted a Dodge Daytona into an electric vehicle during his senior year of high school, and electric has been on their radar ever since. Their familiarity with electric vehicles didn’t stop their surprise when they attended Northern Exposure: Driving Electric in Minnesota on Wednesday, September 29th.
“It’s just instant power. You can feel this need for speed, “said Debbie Meier after a test drive with a Tesla Model Y.” Sitting behind the wheel alone is an experience. “
The event, hosted by the Roseau Electric Cooperative, was a free event to educate people in the area about the benefits and possibilities of electric vehicles. Roseau Electric has partnered with the Northern Municipal Power Agency, the City of Roseau Municipal Utility, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Roseau County Ford, C&M Dealership, and Clean Energy Resource Teams to provide Roseau information and an electric experience.
Some vehicle owners, dealers and electrical cooperatives brought their own electric vehicles to the event so that attendees could learn about the vehicles and experience what it’s like to drive and drive in an electric vehicle. Among the vehicles were two Teslas, a Chevrolet Volt and a Ford Mustang Mach-E.
“We wanted to draw attention to electric vehicles,” says Jeremy Lindemann, Director of Member Services at Roseau Electric. “They’ve been absorbed into the metropolitan area a little faster and are now coming to a point technologically where they’re going to be great in rural Minnesota.”
Dennis Sabourin, a Roseau resident and former Polaris technician, took his 2014 Chevrolet Volt and Polaris Ranger EV for participants to test drives. Sabourin was an early user of electric vehicles. He bought his first electric vehicle in 2012 and believes he was the first in Roseau County to buy an electric vehicle.
“I’m a mechanic by profession – I love engines. However, I got tired of the motors because there are so many moving parts. They are difficult to maintain and keep going, ”said Sabourin. “I looked at electric motors and noticed how efficient they are and how many fewer parts there are and how much fewer problems you could have with an electric vehicle.”
A common concern of the participants was the lack of charging stations in the area. With no charging facilities in communities, the only place the car gets power is at home, making it difficult to travel far. Kaylee Cusack, communications specialist at the Minnkota Power Cooperative, predicts that charging will become less important in the next few years as more communities install charging stations. She said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was using funds from the Volkswagen agreement that came about after VW reached an agreement on emissions standards in 2016. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, VW has deposited $ 2.9 billion into a fund that will be used to help states and tribes eradicate excessive air pollution caused by injury to VW vehicles.
A portion of the dollars can be used to invest in electric vehicles in the form of grants to communities to install charging stations.
“In the next year or two, they’ll be popping up in so many northern Minnesota communities and even stretching all the way into Minnesota,” said Cusack. “There is a lot more now than there was two years ago, and in the next two years you will see a great explosion in the great travel corridors.”
Jukka Kukkonen, founder of Shift2Electric, an electric vehicle consulting and training company, said there are many benefits to owning an electric vehicle in rural areas.
For example, she said, it costs less to drive an electric vehicle than to buy gasoline, electric vehicles require less maintenance than the average internal combustion engine car, and electric vehicles are much quieter than other vehicles on the road. Electric vehicles even have advantages for harsh Minnesota winters.
“They heat up much faster because you don’t have to wait for the combustion engine to warm up,” says Kukkonen. “And you can do that in a closed garage because there are no emissions. Don’t try that at home with your internal combustion engine. “
Electric vehicles even have the potential to support the local economy. Most people with electric vehicles charge at home, which means the cost of refueling their car is added to their monthly electric bill.
“This money doesn’t go to multinational oil companies. It goes to your local utility and helps your local community, ”said Kukkonen.
Jerry Hasnedl of Thief River Falls already has an electric vehicle but came to the event to see what types of electric vehicles other people drove. He said he bought his Chevrolet Bolt to save money while driving back and forth from his son’s farm just outside of town.
“My wife and I like it very much. We also introduced it to some relatives, and everyone who drives it wants it, ”says Hasnedl.
Not everyone who came to the event was convinced that electrical is better – at least not yet. Gerald Tappe would be interested in the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, an electric version of Ford’s best-selling vehicle, if not for the time it takes to charge.
“We’re going to Texas in the winter and it would take us five days to get there. It usually takes three, but you have to recharge every 300 miles, ”said Tappe.
While the event wasn’t about test drives, the Ford F-150 Lightning was a hot topic among attendees. Shannon Stassen, a member of the Northwest Clean Energy and Resilient Communities program, believes the all-electric truck will be a popular choice for rural Minnesota.
“It’s worth repeating this event when we get the Lightning,” said Stassen. “And I hope I drive one here.”