Volkswagen Settlement Will Advance Electric Chargers And Clean Fuels Across The Country

Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles and a court has determined a settlement. Part of the settlement is a requirement for VW to provide clean fuel alternatives across the US.

This is a wonderful opportunity to build on existing and ongoing alternative fuel and efficiency projects in Fargo and across North Dakota and the region. To learn more, tune in to KFGO Monday Feb 6 8:00 to 11:00 am. I’m filling in for Joel. At 9:30 we’ll visit with C.L.E.A.N. founder Ed Gruchalla and fellow member Paul Jensen and learn about their proposal to VW to create an EV charging corridor across ND.

While we’re a large oil producer, North Dakota doesn’t have any gasoline refining plants and we have to export oil to import gasoline. We can do better. Advancing the transition to cleaner electric vehicles would be an incredible advantage here.This type of quick charge station can completely recharge a Nissan Leaf in about 20 minutes for 100 mile range at a cost of $3.

We’re a state that produces over twice the electricity than we use locally with a growing percentage of electricity being produced with wind, solar, and cleaner burning natural gas. The cost of electric charging at today’s 8-10 cents a KWH is $1 for a gallon equivalent, estimated at 30 mpg, less than half the current cost of gasoline.

In the Fargo Moorhead area, our  C.L.E.A.N. team (Citizens Local Action Energy Network) is a coalition to build on good work by many in a collaborative manner. Among our common goals is to advance clean energy solutions and to aid in the transition to clean fuel vehicles and infrastructure that could include strategically located Electric Vehicle charging stations and infrastructure.

Thanks to Forum reporter Patrick Springer for the article that’s been printed around the region.

FARGO — A group of clean energy advocates is proposing a network of fast-charging stations on major highways crisscrossing North Dakota to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.

Citizens Local Action Energy Network, or CLEAN, based in Fargo, has applied for a grant under Volkswagen’s $11 billion settlement that allocates $7.5 million for North Dakota projects that reduce automobile emissions.

Members of CLEAN believe a network of charging stations, located along Interstates 29 and 94 and U.S. Highway 2, would encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles.

 “The idea is it will facilitate sale of electric vehicles and therefore reduce the emissions,” said Paul Jensen, a member of CLEAN.

Of North Dakota’s $7.5 million allocation under the Volkswagen settlement, 15 percent must go toward infrastructure to support clean energy projects, he said.

In Fargo, the group is recommending charging stations at West Acres Mall and the Roberts Ramp under construction downtown. The group also proposes charging stations along I-94 in Bismarck, Dickinson, Jamestown and Beach; along I-29 t in Pembina, Grand Forks and Hankinson; and along Highway 2 in Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, and New Town, with alternatives in Stanley or Williston.

The equipment cost for a fast-charging station is $30,000 to $35,000, plus $10,000 to $15,000 for installation, said Jensen, who is a green energy consultant.

“The price is continuously going down,” he said.

CLEAN member John Bagu, who leases a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, said they are more economical to drive than gasoline-powered cars. He and his wife also own a gas-powered car, which they use for long trips and as a secondary vehicle.

By his calculations, assuming gas at $2 per gallon, drivers in Fargo and Cass County spend $300 million a year on gas; that figure increases to $500 million per year if gas hits $3.50 per gallon.

 Bagu said his electric car costs a “fraction” of what it costs to fill the tank with gas: about $3 for a charge. “Imagine going to a gas station and paying $3 to fuel up,” he said.

He said it’s also more fun to drive — a source of rivalry with his wife, who also prefers driving their electric car.

 “Now we literally fight over it,” he said. “The loser gets to drive our gas vehicle.”

Bagu, who also has equipped his Fargo home with solar panels and generates his own electricity, estimates there are half a dozen electric vehicles in Fargo, while Jensen estimates there are 50 around North Dakota.

But both said the technology is rapidly advancing and costs are going down. They predict electric vehicles will be widely adopted in time.

South Dakota has placed electric charging stations along Interstate 90, a major tourist highway, said Ed Gruchalla, another CLEAN member.

“They put the chargers in there so people can drive through the state,” he said, noting I-90 is a common route to the Black Hills.

North Dakota’s tourism industry also could benefit from having a network of charging stations to accommodate electric cars, said Mike Williams, a former Fargo city commissioner and a supporter of the proposal.

“It would help the tourism a lot,” he said.

~End article~