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Current vehicle trends: TWEC pushes for electric charging station near Wadena

Miles Kuschel, Treasurer on the Board of Directors at Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative, shared his passion for the Tesla Model S. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal1 / 8
Allison Uselman is the Member Services Director at Todd-Wadena Electric and she delivered an in-depth information session on electric vehicles. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal2 / 8
Representatives from Tesla in Minneapolis attended the event to share information about the high tech vehicle brand. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal 3 / 8
The Chevrolet Volt owned by Todd-Wadena Electrical Cooperative. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal4 / 8
The Tesla cars at the event garnered much attention and fascination. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal5 / 8
Several vehicles lined the gymnasium at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal6 / 8
Private Tesla owners offered first hand knowledge of owning an electric vehicle. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal7 / 8
During the deep dive segment members participated in a form of trivia about electric vehicles. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal8 / 8

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative hosted their 79th annual meeting at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center. The meeting welcomed members to enjoy an afternoon learning about the future of electric vehicles in Minnesota.

Representatives of TWEC referred to the information segment as a "Deep Dive." The purpose of such a session is to shed light on various aspects of the electric industry. During this meeting they chose electric vehicles. The automotive industry is changing, new technology is altering the way people approach transportation. Heightened awareness on the environmental impact of traditional vehicles in combination with a unified desire to be more energy efficient has many looking at electric cars.

The session was filled with helpful statistics geared toward convincing area members to adopt electric vehicles in mass. Allison Uselman, Member Services Director, discussed charging practices to the different types of electric cars.

She proceeded to break down the differences between the three different types of electric vehicles. Hybrid electric refers to a vehicle with a small battery that supports the combustion engine. The plugin hybrid has a gas engine and an electric battery. This vehicle primarily uses the electric battery but will switch to gas when the battery has been depleted. Lastly, there are also fully electrical vehicles that consume no gas.

Tesla models on display were a focal point of the session. Representatives from Tesla in Minneapolis attended the event and brought some of their high tech cars to show off. The sleek sporty exteriors were complimented excellently with the contemporary interiors which were filled with gadgets and LCD screens. The highlight of these cars is obviously there means of propulsion, they are fully electric and require no gas. That was a fact that had many members fascinated as they circled the Model S asking dozens of questions of the two representatives. Many commented on the speed and savings associated with owning a Tesla.

According to Uselman, Minnesota is an EV friendly region and her organization only wants to improve upon the natural progression of the automotive industry. Her research indicated that in 2018, 2% of car sales were electric and its projected in 2025 that number will increase to 21%. These statistics were further cemented when Uselman explained that in 2011, Minnesota had 418 registered electric vehicles, In 2018 that figure jumped to 5,843.

Just outside the wellness center were a line of Tesla vehicles and their respective owners ready to answer all the burning questions of potential converters. Miles Kuschel, Board Treasurer at TWEC gladly showed off his Tesla Model S to the procession of onlookers. He spoke passionately about the car, saying that his favorite thing about the Model S is the "storage space and it's really fun to drive." Without the need for a combustion engine, the car essentially has twice the storage space of a traditional sedan.

Charging and charging facilities are the basis of electric vehicles. In order to own and operate a Tesla or any electric car, the owner needs access to a charging station. Having charging available in a home garage can be a pricey investment ranging from $500-$5,000. Commercial charging operations are typically around $60,000-$150,000. According to Uselman, 80 percent of charging occurs at home and people only using their electric vehicle for a morning commute usually only need a level two installation. A level two installation or 240 volt can charge a vehicle in 4 hours. Cost of installation is around $2,000-$5,000.

With the Volkswagen settlement, $2 billion will be used toward EV education and adding charging infrastructure. Some of those funds have come to Minnesota and many routes are already charging ready. TWEC is pushing to make Minnesota more energy efficient and they want Wadena to have their own charging capabilities. "Todd-Wadena Electric have been working hard to ensure that Wadena does get on that map, so we can get one of those fast charging corridors," said Uselman.

TWEC used this opportunity to roll out their new vehicle charging rates for residential EV chargers. During peak use hours the electric company will charge more per Kilowatt hour. Off-peak hours will cost considerably less. A special rebate for up to $500 is available for installation of an EV charger.