Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles and a court has determined a substantial 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.
Currently there is not a strong demand for electric charging stations at this time in ND. Today’s cost of an electric vehicle like a Nissan Leaf is $31,000, still a bit higher than a standard car but with more manufacturers like Chevrolet, Volkwagen, Tesla and others building them, the cost and efficiency will improve.
Why should North Dakota pave the way for electric cars? 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 and should do better. Advancing the transition to cleaner electric vehicles would be an incredible advantage for North Dakota.
We live in a state that produces over twice the electricity (36 million megawatt hours) that we use in state (16 million million megawatt hours) 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. This type of quick charge station can completely recharge a Nissan Leaf in about 20 minutes for 100 mile range at a cost of less than $3. Here’s a link
In our Fargo Moorhead area, our C.L.E.A.N. team (Citizens Local Action Energy Network) is a coalition formed 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. Our group responded to Volkswagens call for public proposals for electric vehicle infrastructure with a three phase plan for EV charging corridors. The first would be along I-94, then I-29 followed by Highway #2.
Another great application for electric vehicles would be transitioning our Matbus fleet over time to electric buses. Many larger cities started using these years ago, and some like Duluth and Rochester have been running some of these successfully since 2015 and they’ve performed very well. Some of the newest versions like the Proterra E2 are estimated to achieve 350 miles on a charge. I’ve visited with some city staff about the improvements and potential.
North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. We can lead the nation when we work together to leverage technology and existing energy resources with renewable resources to advance our transition into a new age of energy that is ultimately cleaner, more sustainable, and more affordable when all factors are weighed.