‘Hey, you there?’

‘Yeah, I’m here.’

‘Things looking OK?’

‘Yeah, things are looking OK.’

“The charger and the car talk back and forth,” ZEF Energy CEO Matthew Blackner explained.

ALP Utilities hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new electric vehicle charging station at the Simonson Station Store in south Alexandria Wednesday, July 22.

The event included a demonstration of how to charge different models of electric vehicles and discussion surrounding the effects of electric driving.

Scott Deitz, operations manager at ALP Utilities, started talking with ZEF Energy about the project three years ago. Simonson Station Store was suggested as the best location for ZEF Energy, as it provides a stopping point for travelers. The next closest chargers are in Fergus Falls and St. Cloud. Alexandria has other electric charging stations, but they’re not as close to the Interstate-94 corridor.

“It’s a step in electric cars making it,” Deitz said.

Blackner said it’s “slap, bang and center” on the I-94 corridor, which stretches from Moorhead to the Twin Cities. On a larger scale, this charging station is one stop along a 1,500-mile alternative fuel corridor from Port Huron, Mich., to Billings, Mont.

The charging station, which can charge up to three vehicles to charge at a time, was funded by a $4.9 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. It includes one direct current fast charger and two level two chargers, providing 200 miles and 25 miles of battery life for every one hour it’s plugged in.

Ryan Rooney, Runestone Electric Association energy services and business development manager, gave a tour of his family’s vehicle, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander. Since it has both a gas and electric option, he said they use it for daily commutes as well as longer trips. For every 1,000 miles they drive, Rooney said it saves his family around $100.

“It’s been a good economic decision for us,” he said.

Partners on this project include ALP Utilities, Gas Technology Institute, Great River Energy, Missouri River Energy Services, Runestone Electric Association, Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition and American Lung Association.

“The opening of this charging hub is an important step in our continuing progress toward cleaner and more efficient vehicles,” said Lisa Thurstin, American Lung Association Clean Air senior manager.

She said the top source of emissions in Minnesota is vehicles, so implementing this charging station is another step closer to cleaner air and healthier lungs.

“We’re all aware of the current pandemic ripping not only our state and nation but much of the world,” Thurstin said. “What we might not be aware of is the silent epidemic of air pollution.”

A new electric vehicle charging station was placed at the Simonson Station Store in south Alexandria. The ribbon cutting event included a demonstration of how to charge different models of electric vehicles and a discussion surrounding the effects of electric driving. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)
A new electric vehicle charging station was placed at the Simonson Station Store in south Alexandria. The ribbon cutting event included a demonstration of how to charge different models of electric vehicles and a discussion surrounding the effects of electric driving. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)