Minnesota’s EV charging station rollout is moving forward

Minnesota’s EV charging station rollout is moving forward

Minnesota’s EV charging station rollout is moving forward

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to add electric vehicle fast chargers along the Interstate 35 and Interstate 94 corridors. The project is federally funded through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, or NEVI.

All 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, are receiving funding. Minnesota has been allotted $68 million. The program also requires a 20% non-federal match.

“The NEVI formula program is a really big deal,” said Megan Hoye, the chief development officer for Zef Energy. “This is the largest funding opportunity that we’ve seen for DC fast charger development across the country.”

Zef Energy is a Minneapolis-based electric vehicle charger manufacturer. It’s one of more than 100 companies, organizations and local governments that have expressed interest in being involved in the NEVI rollout.

According to MnDOT, there will be a competitive process later this year to select who will provide the equipment, maintain it and host it. Each charging station must have at least four combined charging system ports.

“We would be working with businesses across the state to help identify spots, locations in a community that are fitting in the NEVI requirements,” Hoye said. “We would bring the charging hardware and we would bring the software.”

She added, “We wouldn’t own that infrastructure, other local businesses would own that infrastructure so they have a path to keep those revenue from the charging, the fueling of the future in their community.”

The state plans to identify 16 potential sites along the two highways, which are Alternative Fuel Corridors. Last week, MnDOT posted a map outlining in orange where the clusters of chargers may be built.

“To provide fast charging stations for interstate and long-distance travel,” said Beth Kallestad, the principal sustainability planner for MnDOT. “That is really the focus of these dollars, to help people get on long trips.”

She explained the state hopes to release site application proposals in the last summer or early fall. Those interested in participating will have to apply and then be selected.

“We need at least 16, although it could be actually less than that,” she said, in regard to the number of partners the state is seeking. “They could have land or location to offer for a site, they might be a charging station vendor, they might be an electrician, they might be construction contractor that can help with pavement, landscaping — might be a sign maker, sign provider.”

During the 2023 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers gave MnDOT the statutory authority to establish the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program and pledged two years of funding, although the specific amount has not been disclosed.

“We need a 20% non-federal match, so it could come from the state, or it could come from the entities itself,” said Kallestad.

The state hopes to see installation begin in 2024.

“The fast charging is really the catalyst, the must-have to get people feeling comfortable with charging and combat range anxiety,” Hoye said. “I think it is coming at the right time.”