Before you hit the road, you might think about where you’ll stop to eat, sleep, or fill gas. As electric vehicles (EVs) become more affordable and chargers more accessible, some people are planning trips around charging locations.
With the evolution of electric transportation, Otter Tail Power Company customers have become increasingly interested in access to EV chargers with reasonable rates. Recognizing the demand for electric transportation resources, the company developed a proposal for an EV charging infrastructure pilot program. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the proposal, allowing Otter Tail Power Company to build 11 direct current (DC) fast charging sites and 10 Level 2 charging sites in its Minnesota service area. “This proposal is a cost-effective way to get more EV chargers across Minnesota,” said Commissioner Matt Schuerger in a recent news release from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. “Otter Tail Power deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first rural electric utilities in the country to create a proposal and one that garnered such widespread stakeholder support.”
The company is still finalizing charger locations and expects to complete the project in the next two to three years. “This is an exciting plan for current and future EV owners,” said Otter Tail Power Company Market Planning Manager Jason Grenier. “When the project is complete, 97 percent of our Minnesota customers will be within 30 miles of a charging station—and 100 percent will be within 60 miles.”
Otter Tail Power Company also has partnered with leaders in the communities of Bemidji, Crookston, Fergus Falls, and Morris, Minnesota, and Wahpeton and Jamestown, North Dakota to install EV charging stations. Most recently, in downtown Fergus Falls, the company installed two 7-kilowatt (kW) Level 2 chargers and a 50-kW fast charger, the first charger of its kind along a 200-mile major corridor of Interstate Highway 94 between Monticello and Moorhead, Minnesota.
From misconceptions about price to worries about driving long distances in winter weather, EV adoption has its challenges in Otter Tail Power Company’s rural and vast service area. Yet, the company expects the number of EV owners will continue to grow with needed infrastructure in place. “And electric transportation is affordable,” said Grenier. “Customers can charge their vehicles for less than half the cost of gas per mile at public chargers and can see even greater savings when charging at home.” The company’s public DC fast charging rates range from .5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) during off-peak hours to 13 cents per kWh during peak hours.
“Whether you live in or are visiting our service area, these charging stations will make long stretches of highway more accessible for EV travel,” said Grenier. “And we’ll continue to evaluate opportunities for additional charging stations in North Dakota and South Dakota.”
As EVs continue to improve, it’s easier than ever to hit the road with a safe and reliable network for EV travel. Find more information about Otter Tail Power Company’s customer EV rates and rebates at otpco.com/DriveOn.