If you live nearly anywhere in North Dakota or Minneosota, you know the past week has been a SCORCHER. I mean, just because our hardy northern population is used to a few 100-degree days every summer, it doesn’t mean we have to 100% enjoy it.
It was – I kid you not – 100 degrees when I left Grand Forks on Friday, June 4, for my next adventure in the Minnkota Bolt. Bright and early on Saturday morning, I would be heading to Kasin Farms near Hawley, Minn., for one of several Breakfast on the Farm events to be held throughout the state in June. It’s an annual initiative through Minnesota’s Farm Bureaus to invite families to experience the farm with a hearty pancake breakfast served by the Lions Club, wagon rides, farm animals, and educational experiences like learning how to milk a dairy cow.
I grew up on a beef cattle farm, so milking is not on my resume.
The organizers had invited Minnkota and our member cooperative Wild Rice Electric Cooperative (one of the area’s rural electricity providers) to bring the all-electric vehicle and teach visitors how we can turn rural resources into the electricity that can power transportation.
Yep. That is definitely on my resume.
So Friday afternoon I was cruising south on Interstate 29 to Fargo, my pit stop on the 110-mile journey to the farm. I could get all the way there and back on a single charge thanks to the Bolt’s 230-mile range, but three things stopped me from a simple day trip:
NOTE: If you’re wondering about the car’s massive underbody battery overheating in those temperatures, no worries – the battery is cooled with a liquid system that ensures it remains at an efficient temperature. Cool technology!
I plugged in at one of Cass County Electric Cooperative’s three fast charging stations, this one ideally placed at West Acres Shopping Center. The ChargePoint station told me I would be at 80% charged in just 30 minutes – a perfect amount of time to run over to the Target across the street for some supplies for the next day, like bottles of water and candy to get people over to my booth. I took a little longer in Target (the place has everything and I get distracted) and had a comfortable range for Saturday's trip.
The next morning, I bid farewell to Betsy (thanks for the cookies, friend) and started the half-hour drive to Kasin Farms. I had 135 miles of range, which was more than plenty to get me to the farm and back to Fargo for a quick top-off charge before heading back to Minnkota.
When I pulled up to the farm just before 7 a.m., the place was already bustling with activity. Dozens of vendors and activity centers were putting the final touches on their booths, cars were already filling the parking area and the scent of breakfast sausage was already in the air.
My Minnkota EV booth was stationed right next to the Petro Serve USA booth, which led to some playful teasing from my neighbors throughout the day. However, they had a lot of questions about the EV and what it takes to install a charging station, so I enjoyed the conversations the “rivalry” stoked.
The event was phenomenal. It was warm, but the sunshine and fresh air brought out the best in the 3,000 or so attendees. Entire families came to me with thoughtful questions about the car, but more so about the future of EVs in the region. As the morning progressed, it really sunk in that, since I started doing EV outreach in 2018, people had learned so much more about electrified transportation. They were now seeing it everywhere – in TV ads, in shows and movies, in political discourse, from their neighbors.
I was hearing less of the standard, “Yep, it’s the technology of the future,” and more of, “My son in Arizona has one, and he loves it,” or “Yeah, I saw that they just put a few more chargers around Fargo, like one at City Hall.”
After dozens of wonderful conversations, dispersing hundreds of Tootsie Rolls, Skittles and neon sunglasses, and equipping potential EV owners with information on models and rebates, it was time to say goodbye to my new friends from Petro Serve USA and get back to Minnkota.
I realized I just barely had enough charge for the 105-mile journey ahead of me, so I decided to take a quick lunch stop to energize in Downtown Fargo, one of my favorite areas to visit.
Since I just needed a top-off, I opted to park in the Roberts Commons parking garage since I had heard they had free Level 2 charging there. And boy, did they. Five ChargePoint stations with two ports each were waiting for me. I was sad to see none of them being used at the time – I figured Saturday afternoon would be prime time for out-of-town visitors – but I know that will come with time.
I plugged in and made the 30-second walk to the next-door restaurant for a sandwich, but I had dozens of eateries and shops within walking distance. Those Level 2 chargers are fantastic for people who want to pump some money into the Fargo economy. Which is what I did. After lunch, I also hit my favorite local bookseller, Zandbroz, for my latest book club selection and then popped over to Unglued for an additional crafty purchase.
With my stomach full of food and my hand full of shopping bags, I returned to Bolty, who was now full of battery power.
It turns out I likely didn’t need the top-off in Fargo. My interstate driving efficiency was at its peak with the wind at my back and a 65-mph speed limit through miles of construction. But the charge time was another new positive site experience I can share with other drivers – and prospective drivers – in the region.
- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota communications specialist