Charged Up Community

It’s not often that the 32nd Avenue Wendy’s parking lot in Grand Forks draws a small crowd of economic leaders, the media and the mayor. However, that was the scene on Oct. 1, when Nodak Electric cut the ribbon on a first-in-the-community electric vehicle (EV) fast charging station.

“This is an important day for electric vehicle drivers in the Greater Grand Forks area and all around our region,” Nodak President & CEO Mylo Einarson told attendees. “As an electric cooperative, we are proud to promote the growth of cleaner, economical electric transportation in our state and beyond.”

The ChargePoint Level 3 DC (direct current) fast charger will deliver a powerful 62.5 kilowatts to EV drivers who park and pay to charge. The project was made possible by Volkswagen settlement money granted by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the host-site support of Wendy’s owner Brad Towers. The unit is powered by the wind of the Infinity Renewable Energy Program.

At a maximum charge rate of 250 RPH (miles of range per hour), a driver can be reenergized and road ready in 30-60 minutes. That’s much faster than a standard Level 2 public charger, which would take closer to eight hours. Until now, EV drivers traveling between Winnipeg and Fargo or Minot and Bemidji had no options for a speedy “refuel” during their journey.

Nodak Electric Member/Energy Services Manager Blaine Rekken says the fast charge is just long enough for out-of-towners to grab a meal at a local restaurant or shop at a nearby business – a small boost for the city’s economy.

“Grand Forks has always been a destination city, and now we’re just making it that much more available to the electric vehicle community of users,” he said. “That’s a huge benefit.”

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, Nodak staff stayed onsite to hand out charger fact sheets and vouchers for a free Wendy’s ice cream to those driving by – an educational effort dubbed “Fast Charge and Frostys.” One attendee was Kyle Thorson, a Grand Forks driver of a Tesla Model S.

“This is huge. You’ve seen fast chargers go up in a lot of cities, and Grand Forks was behind, so I’m happy about this one,” he said. “A lot of Tesla owners come through this direction, trying to go to Winnipeg or other places, and they have an option now, whereas they might have taken a longer route to go through other places before.”

Thorson’s car boasts an all- electric range of 400 miles, but he knows that the anxiety of a depleted battery keeps many from buying EVs in the northern region.

“There have been people who have said, oh, I’d really like one, but I can’t buy it because I don’t know where to charge it, especially in North Dakota,” he said. “This starts to change that landscape a little bit, and it’s obviously a win for everybody.”

In just the first two weeks of activation, before the ribbon had even been cut, the fast charger had already logged 17 charging sessions. It’s an indication that the Nodak station is already filling a need for drivers around the region.

“We are more than selling electrons. We also sell a quality of life. That quality of life is anything from hot water to electric heating to all of the things that make our lives better,” Rekken said. “Electric vehicles are just one of those components to add on.”

If you are interested in owning an EV and would like information on Nodak’s electric vehicle incentives, please click here.