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Can't stop, won't stop, workshop!

May 16, 2019

This week the Minnkota Bolt and I were invited to head south to Moorhead to be a part of a multi-industry workshop called “Pathways to EV Adoption.” The afternoon panel and networking event was co-hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and North Dakota State University Extension as a way to examine the region’s current challenges and opportunities surrounding EV education, mobilization and infrastructure.

Sounds like my cup of tea!

I hit the interstate at 73 mph heading south into a strong south wind. I knew maintaining that 27-30 kW draw would use more total battery power than a typical jaunt, but I also knew the venue of the workshop would be a two-minute walk from Moorhead’s ZEF fast charging station. No worries – I could get a good recharge for the trip home.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see what I did when I arrived at the charging station. Both fast-charging plugs were in use, as was one of the two Level 2 plugs. I slid into the remaining EV parking spot, greeted by the smiles of a half-dozen workshop attendees who were also getting in a pre-event charge. Some faces I knew, and others became my new EV buddies.

Of course I made them take a photo with me.

Charged up to learn with some fantastic folks! Left to right: Ben, City of Morris; Matthew, ZEF Energy; Mickey, UMN West Central Research and Outreach Center; Bob, Cass County Electric; me; Tom, Fergus Falls Downtown Riverfront Council; Sam, Beltrami Electric
Four Bolts sharing a charge zone. It's a powerful image. Enjoy that pun.

The event was packed with EV stakeholders from electric utilities, government entities, businesses and other organizations who have interest in moving EV adoption forward. I was a part of a panel discussing utility perspectives on EVs, on which I was able to talk about Minnkota’s education and outreach initiatives (including the blog you’re reading now) and our partnership with our distribution cooperatives to offer home charger rebates and off-peak charging programs.

A special shout out to my Minnkota family comrades Sam Mason of Beltrami Electric Cooperative (far left) and Bob Miller of Cass County Electric Cooperative (far right) for sharing their cooperative expertise alongside me (I'm the lady!).
ZEF Energy CEO Matthew Blackler explains his company's plans to build out a charging network along the region's major travel corridors.

The afternoon continued with engaging presentations, panels and Q&As. CERTs Co-director Joel Haskard rounded out the discussion with an insight that nailed the idea behind the workshop.

“There’s a shared benefit [surrounding EVs] among so many areas,” he said, tying together utilities, cities, public service, health organizations, hospitality and so much more. “That’s what makes this conversation so interesting and exciting.”

Then, it was time for the REALLY fun part. Heading outside to check out everyone’s EVs. And there were lots of them.

More than a dozen EVs were parked outside of Moorhead's Courtyard by Marriott. They came from not only utilities and government entities, but also from local drivers.

One of the best parts of my job is actually showing people the Bolt and answering their questions about it. Most of this crowd was already knowledgeable about what makes EVs unique, so it was a chance to really swap experiences – tips and tricks for driving efficiency, which models have the best features, where to find the best charging experiences, etc.

They were speaking my language!

What thrilled me most was that I actually had a couple of people approach me and say they were fans of the blog and that they were sharing it with colleagues and friends. That means the message is getting out there.

My heart swelled.

Carly (left) and Katelyn (middle) from the Great Plains Institute told me they are fans of the blog. So of course I had to hook them up with shades. Thanks, guys!

My Minnkota teammate Todd was hitching a ride back to headquarters with me, so I handed him Bolty’s keys (I can’t have ALL the fun, right?) and we headed north. The wind was still a strong 20-25 mph, but it was also still blowing from the south.

You know what that means. The Midwest weather wonder would be giving us a boost all the way back.

We parked and plugged in at home base. When I compared the data from the trip down to the trip back, it was a revelation. Boy, that wind is either a blessing or a curse!

Grand Forks to Moorhead (north to south)
  • Departing anticipated range: 195 miles
  • Distance: 80 miles
  • Arriving anticipated range: 94 miles
  • Energy consumed: 29 kWh
  • Conditions: 20-mph south wind, 73-mph travel speed, no climate control
Level 2 charge
  • 2 hours
  • 45 miles gained
Moorhead to Grand Forks (south to north)
  • Departing anticipated range: 139 miles
  • Distance: 80 miles
  • Arriving anticipated range: 76 miles
  • Energy consumed: 22 kWh
  • Conditions: 20-mph south wind, 75-mph travel speed, climate control

I collected a lot on Wednesday – new insights, new friends, new data. I’d call this journey another electric success.

- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota communications specialist

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