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St. Peter, Minn., to Extend Electric Vehicle Charging Network

The city plans to install two new electric vehicle stations at the end of the summer — both fast and slow chargers. The fast chargers can charge electric vehicles to near full capacity in about 20 to 30 minutes.

by Brian Arola, The Free Press / May 21, 2020

(TNS) — St. Peter will have two new electric vehicle charging stations installed downtown by the end of the summer.

The City Council approved the purchase of a $29,213 fast charging station from the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, or SMMPA, last week. SMMPA is also providing the city with another fast charger and two slow chargers.

The city plans to add a slow and fast charger to St. Peter Co-op’s parking lot and a parking lot on the 100 block of Nassau Street downtown this summer.

The Co-op location was already set, while Council members gave the go-ahead for the latter during a work session Monday. The chargers are scheduled to arrive in mid-June, said Public Works Director Pete Moulton.

“We’ll be doing some site prep, and our goal is by the end of summer we’ve got these things up and running,” he said.

The Council’s work session packet indicated it could take about two months after the purchase was approved to get the sites ready. Two months from approval would be in early- to mid-July.

SMMPA providing chargers and facilitating the city’s purchase of another is part of a broader effort to build electric vehicle charging networks in Greater Minnesota. The initiative helps address barriers preventing people from switching to electric vehicles, like “range anxiety,” where drivers don’t feel like they’ll have enough charging stations to make longer trips, according to a SMMPA press release.

“It’s a great opportunity and an important first step to facilitate acceptance of electric vehicles, an amazing technology that will transform both the electric utility and transportation industries,” stated Chris Schoenherr, SMMPA’s director of agency and government relations, in the release.

The fast chargers can charge electric vehicles to near full capacity in about 20 to 30 minutes. The slower, level-two chargers offer a smaller boost over a longer period.

City Administrator Todd Prafke said the level-two chargers are more for people who want to top off their vehicles while shopping downtown. People in a hurry to get somewhere, meanwhile, would use the faster option.

Council member Brad DeVos asked how much the city will charge to use the stations. The city will see what it takes to operate the fast charger before making a decision, Moulton said.

One possibility would be to offer the level-two charger for free and use a card swipe system to charge for the faster option. As for how long cars can park in the charging stalls, the city could end up enforcing it like parking meters.

The charging location on Nassau Street will be on city-owned land labeled parking lot two. Some nearby businesses use the lot for parking, and Moulton said the city will let them know about its plans for the land.

St. Peter has a few existing charging locations, including stations at Best Western Plus and Gustavus Adolphus College. Hy-Vee will also have stations once it opens, Moulton said, but the two downtown chargers will be the first installed by the city.

St. Peter worked with SMMPA, who bought chargers in bulk from ZEF Energy for many of its members, to get a lower price on the additional charger it needed. Funding for the purchased charger is coming from the city’s electric budget.

©2020 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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