Company highlights charging stations, other efforts as part of National Drive Electric Week

DULUTH — Minnesota Power is on the road to a clean energy future as it expands its support for electric vehicles and helps accelerate the shift to electric power in the transportation sector.

The company recently proposed rebates for installing residential chargers and a rewards program for customers who own EVs, is working with business owners and others to build an EV charging network in northeastern Minnesota, and has announced plans to switch much of its own vehicle fleet to electric in the next 10 years.

The expanded support for EVs is part of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy to reduce carbon emissions. And now, during National Drive Electric Week, Sept. 26-Oct. 4, Minnesota Power joins utilities and organizations across the United States to raise awareness of the many environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles.

“The expectations of our customers, and of society in general, are changing. We see more EVs on the road every day because they are economical to operate, offer a great way to reduce carbon emissions, and are just plain fun to drive,” said Frank Frederickson, Minnesota Power vice president of Customer Experience. “We want to make it more convenient and affordable for customers to use EVs through easy and equitable access to charging stations and rewards programs. Encouraging the adoption of EVs will help make the most of the increasing amount of renewable energy on the grid. At Minnesota Power, we expect our energy mix to be 50 percent renewable by 2021 and to be fueling more and more EVs with our safe, reliable and affordable power.”

The support for EVs builds on a variety of other actions Minnesota Power has taken to reduce carbon emissions. The company has retired or re-fueled seven of nine coal units and expects to reduce carbon emissions 50 percent by 2021 compared with levels in 2005.

Incentives and rebates

Minnesota Power recently proposed an EV charging rewards program for residential customers and a rebate toward the purchase and installation of an EV charger for residential customers. Customers will be able to take advantage of the two offerings pending approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

EV Charging Rewards Program. Residential customers who sign up for the proposed rewards program will be able to earn monetary rewards when they charge their EV anywhere in the Minnesota Power service area.

Electric Vehicle Charging Rebate Program. Residential customers who participate in the proposed EV Charging Rewards Program will be eligible for a $500 rebate for a Level 2 smart charger. For customers who prefer to participate in Minnesota Power’s existing residential EV time-of-use rate, the company will provide a $500 rebate for the installation of a required, dedicated second service at their home in addition to a $500 rebate toward the purchase of a Level 2 smart charger.

In addition to the discounted rate for residential EV charging, Minnesota Power also offers an EV rate for commercial customers.

Fleet transformation

Minnesota Power has set a goal of having 50 percent of its light-duty vehicles, such as pickups, be electric by 2030 and 25 percent of its medium and heavy-duty vehicles, including line trucks, be transitioned to plug-in technology by 2030.

Charging network

As part of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy to increase the number of publicly available charging stations in northern Minnesota, the company is donating Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations to business customers at 21 sites in 19 communities it serves. Six of the charging stations have been completed so far with the remainder to be installed later this year and in 2021. Charging stations have been installed at Woodgate Apartments in Cloquet, Kocian’s Family Market in Bigfork, Frost River Market Place in Duluth, City of Duluth Medical Ramp, Korner Store in Duluth, and Hub 71 in Sebeka.

Future installations are scheduled in International Falls, Silver Bay and Biwabik, among others.

Minnesota Power also has supported the construction of other public charging stations in its service territory. Most recently, the company provided assistance to ZEF Energy as it completed fast-charging stations in Walker, Little Falls, Crosby and Chisholm as part of Phase 1 of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s EV highway corridor.

In addition, Minnesota Power partnered in recent years with several communities to bring more Level 2 EV chargers to northeastern Minnesota. Those include charging stations in Canal Park in Duluth (which also has a fast-charger), at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, at the Ely Public Library in Ely, in Veterans Memorial Park in Virginia, at City Hall in Two Harbors, and at the Bricks Travel Center in Motley.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, an EV charged from Minnesota’s electric grid versus a gasoline-powered vehicle already emits less overall carbon dioxide equivalents, nitrogen oxides and fine particles.

Mine truck electrification

Minnesota Power also is looking forward to working with customers on a potential mine truck electrification pilot. While policy-makers have focused on the electrification of transportation and buildings, electrification of industry is a key interest of Minnesota Power and its mining customers. The company is evaluating the potential for a pilot project that could include support for a site-specific analysis, replacement or retrofitting or a portion of an existing haul truck fleet, engineering and installation of the catenary system and substations, and service extension to the trolley line.

Minnesota Power provides electric service within a 26,000-square-mile area in northeastern Minnesota, supporting comfort, security and quality of life for 145,000 customers, 15 municipalities and some of the largest industrial customers in the United States. More information can be found at www.mnpower.com

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