Capital Electric Cooperative powers new public electric vehicle fast chargers

This summer, Capital Electric Cooperative (CEC) began powering the first electric vehicle (EV) fast charger in its service area. Located along Interstate 94 at the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Level 3 DC fast charger can provide up to 200 miles of charge per hour, making North Dakota more driveable for EV owners.

The charger is one of two new fast charging stations installed by the City of Bismarck. The other charging station is located at the Bismarck Airport. City Planner Will Hutchings says these locations were chosen to help make interstate travel more viable and give local EV owners a more convenient and faster alternative to at-home charging.

“The Bismarck Airport and Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau EV charging station locations provide ease of access for residents and persons visiting the community,” says Hutchings. “The Airport location provides an additional amenity for airport travelers. The Convention and Visitors Bureau location provides quick access for Interstate 94 and Highway 83 travelers, while providing a gateway to area shops, restaurants and the Visitors Bureau.”

Hutchings says adding this service to Bismarck’s transportation network will help strengthen the community’s economic and technological opportunities and open new possibilities for local, regional and interstate EV travel.

“Bismarck continuously strives to be an early adopter of technological advancements that make our community attractive to a diverse 21st Century workforce and help us become a premier destination for travelers,” says Hutchings. “Providing publicly available Level 3 EV fast charging stations helps provide additional amenities for our residents and visitors.”

The new public charging stations were funded by money from a 2016 settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government. The state was awarded $8 million following an admission by Volkswagen that it programmed some of its diesel vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality is administering those funds.

CEC Energy Services Manager Josh Schaffner says electric vehicles are the future. As of June 2021, there were 266 EVs registered in North Dakota, and as car manufacturers add more EVs to their line-ups, that number is expected to grow. “There’s a large transition coming from all of these car manufacturers, and it’s really not that far away,” says Schaffner. “Monitoring the use of these rapid chargers will help Capital Electric to prepare for the future by identifying the need for charging infrastructure and better understanding the demand on the co-op’s electric system.”

The chargers belong to the ChargePoint network, a nationwide network with more than 12,000 EV fast chargers. EV drivers can use the ChargePoint mobile app to find available stations and pay for charging. Drivers who power up at the Bismarck locations will pay a $5 connection fee and then another 25 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy used. A full charge could cost about $20, a 33% savings to fueling up at the gas pump. The typical EV can travel at least 240 miles on a full charge.

As of July 31, there were 78 public EV chargers in the state — 29 Level 2 chargers, 17 Level 3 DC fast chargers and 32 Tesla SuperChargers.

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