Maybe you don’t own an electric vehicle yet, but if you do, you can now make a stop in Wadena at The Depot for a recharge.

Crews installed the charging station this summer and a tech programmed the unit in October, making it now fully operational within the parking lot across from the band stand. Charging parking spots have been designated in front of the two charging port station.

This charging station by ChargePoint is open to the public 24 hours a day, uses a credit card payment system and is a level 2 station. Level 2 is like plugging into a 240-volt supply, like your clothes dryer at home. On average, level 2 stations provide 10 to 20 miles of range per hour the vehicle is connected, according to Drive Electric Minnesota. ChargePoint offers an online app that can tell you what stations are open, or if one is being used, you can add your name to be placed on a waiting list for use.

The Clean Energy Resource Teams' $4,500 grant solidified the decision to install the station in Wadena, according to utilities superintendent David Evans. With the downtown location and ease of access from Hwys 10 and 71, Evans hopes people will spend this time shopping in and experiencing a bit of Wadena.

According to the United States Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center the next closest stops for a charge include Staples at Timberlake Hotel (for customers only) and Motley at 165 Riverfront Lane. They’ve also popped up at Brainerd, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Fergus Falls and larger cities like Fargo, St. Cloud and Alexandria. The Twin Cities and suburbs now have over 100 stations to choose from.

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A plan created with help from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has high hopes to grow the EV fleet in a document called "The Vision." This "Vision" describes strategies for achieving the goal of powering 20% of the light-duty cars in the state with electricity by 2030. Half of these vehicles are expected to be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and half battery electric vehicles (BEV). While the focus of this "Vision" is on light-duty passenger vehicles, it includes discussion of electric buses, including buses made by the Minnesota-based company, New Flyer of America.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative shared details about the cost savings related to using electric vehicles over gas in a 2019 newsletter. They cite that a 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The average cost to operate an EV in the U.S. is $485 per year while the average for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117. The exact price difference would depend on current gas and electric rates as well as the type of car you drive. Charging during off-peak times meant costs for recharging could cost you less than $200 a year, according to a TWEC comparison.

Barriers to EV growth include limitations on where you can find a charging station. If Wadena is any indication, more and more small and large cities are plugging into this new option for travel and quickly expanding the destinations for those running on electricity.