Most owners of electric vehicles charge their cars overnight in the garage. But when a trip takes them far from home, many fear they won’t find a public place to charge up and reach their destination. This barrier to EV ownership called “range anxiety” is being reduced as more and more cities install public charging stations —including Mora.
Mora Municipal Utilities is installing three public electric vehicle chargers throughout Mora with the potential to increase the number electric vehicles on the road and boost electricity sales during off-peak hours.
Installation of the EV charging stations is underway at two locations: The Coborn’s grocery store parking lot and near the Mora Klocka downtown. The stations are expected to be operational by December.
In November of 2019, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s member municipal utilities, including Mora Municipal Utilities, committed to establishing an electric vehicle charging network to help facilitate the transition to EVs in Greater Minnesota. Participating members will be installing a DC Fast Charger and two dual-port level 2 chargers in each of their communities by the end of 2020.
“It’s a great opportunity and an important first step to facilitate acceptance of electric vehicles, helping to usher in a major transformation of both the electric utility and transportation industries,” said Lindy Crawford, Mora city administrator and utility general manager.
Since 90% of EV charging typically occurs in the owner’s garage at night, when electric demand is low, utilities can generally handle that load without additional generation. However, the lack of public charging stations in most communities is a major barrier to consumers making the switch because of “range anxiety” – the fear they may not be able to reach distant destinations.
SMMPA is partnering with ZEF Energy, the largest independently owned and operated DC Fast Charging Network in Minnesota and Wisconsin. SMMPA will purchase the chargers from ZEF Energy and transfer ownership to its member utilities.
MMU is paying the up front expense to prepare the site for installation of the chargers, approximately $56,000 total. An additional $680 is budgeted for annual maintenance.
The DC fast chargers provide EV owners with a quick charge when they are traveling longer distances. The Level 2 chargers provide a charging option for EV owners while they are shopping, dining at a restaurant or conducting other business in town.
SMMPA Chief External Affairs Officer Christopher Schoenherr said the number of interested community members has been promising.
“I think we all believed it would be some time before the chargers got any use. As it turns out, as soon as they start to go up, you get inquiries from EV owners as to when they will be operational... It’s encouraging.”
The chargers have been delivered and MMU is in the process of installing and activating the units. The DC fast charger will be located at Coborns and the two level 2 chargers will be located on Union Street near the Klocka.
Although not confirmed yet, the cost for charging is anticipated to be $2 per hour for the level 2 chargers and $0.30/minute with a $5 connection fee at the DC fast charger.
While a lot depends on the type of vehicle, battery size and other factors, Schoenherr said it is typical to for an EV to get 30-80 miles of range for charging an hour at a Level 2 charger and 40 miles for every ten minutes at a DC fast charger.
Public chargers are not expected to be money-makers for the city/utility, but increased deployment of electric vehicles will increase electric sales at off-peak hours, resulting in fixed costs being spread over more kilowatt hours which could help put downward pressure on future electric rates to customers.