Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives encourage end-use members to pursue electric uses that meet at least one of three criteria, without adversely affecting the others: save consumers money, reduce emissions and improve overall efficiency of the electric grid. In addition, consumers may be driven to adopt electric end uses that improve their quality of life, product quality or productivity.

Great River Energy also believes that significant greenhouse gas reductions can be realized by electrifying water and space heating in addition to the electrification of the transportation sector.

Free wind energy for electric cars Revolt logo

Great River Energy developed Revolt, a first-of-its-kind program that allows electric vehicle (EV) owners to further support the use of renewable energy. When a member claims their upgrade, Great River Energy dedicates wind energy to completely cover the electricity used to fuel an EV for the car’s lifetime.

Launched in 2015 to accolades from other utilities as well as environmental groups, Revolt allows EV owners to power their car with 100% wind energy at no additional cost for the vehicle’s lifetime. Originally intended for consumer-members of our 28 member-owner cooperatives, the program is now offered to all employees.

More Great River Energy employees now driving electric

Year by year, more Great River Energy employees are finding themselves electricity in innovative ways outside of the office.

More than 20 Great River Energy employees own an EV. The cars have become popular enough among Maple Grove office employees that they often perform the “EV shuffle” over the lunch hour by rotating parking spots at charging stations so everyone has an opportunity to fuel up before the commute home.

A popular option of EV models among employees is the plug-in hybrid version (PHEV). Unlike an all-electric car, PHEVs are powered by an electric motor and battery along with an internal combustion engine. Most use solely electricity from battery energy for a certain mileage range before continuing to drive on gasolines.

Great River Energy offers employees a monetary incentive to those who purchase and EV: 15% of the EV’s total cost, up to $2,500.

Charging forward in Minnesota

As EV charging stations continue to pop up around the state, Great River Energy and its members are busy contributing to the movement.

Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives helped establish Minnesota’s first electric corridor. Charging infrastructure along Interstate 35 allows electric vehicle owners to reach northern Minnesota with no emissions.

Several cooperatives have added charging stations to their service territories: Federated Rural Electric Association, Arrowhead Cooperative, Kandiyohi Power Cooperative, Connexus Energy, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, East Central Energy, Cooperative Light & Power and Lake Country Power. Some locations include restaurants golf courses, malls, cooperative facilities and state parks.

Together, we’re making it as easy as possible for consumers to switch to driving an EV.

Great River Energy employees were able to take a spin in an electric vehicle during a Listen & Learn event at the cooperative’s Maple Grove office.

Great River Energy, in partnership with Midwest Evolve and PlugInConnect, hosted an EV ride and drive event for its employees at its Maple Grove headquarters in 2018. Before getting the opportunity to take a spin in an EV, employees sat in on an EV education session.

Great River Energy and our 28 member-owner cooperatives, along with Otter Tail Power and Minnesota Power, teamed up with the Great Plains Institute to promote the Electrify Your Ride sweepstakes.

The contest offered five winners a seven-day Tesla rental with unlimited miles so they could fully experience what it’s like to drive an EV.

This was a great education opportunity, introducing EV technology to members to help them consider how an EV may fit into their lifestyle.

Offering a one-stop shop for EV chargers

The easiest way to help consumers transition from traditional gasoline vehicles to an EV is by making the process as simple as possible. Great River Energy and its participating member-owner cooperatives are doing their part by creating a one-stop shop for consumer-members to purchase and install an EV charging station in their garage.

The EVSE One-Stop Shop launched in July 2019 through the Energy Wise MN online store, offering a discounted price for equipment at the time of purchase on a first-come, first-served basis for 200 consumer-members. EVSE, or electric vehicle supply equipment, is the necessary infrastructure to charge and electric vehicle at home.

Great River Energy and its member-owners collect data from across our shared service territory to better define expected annual EV kilowatt-hour usage and daily load profile data from a variety of load control options.

Residents from around Duluth were able to check out several types of electric vehicles (EVs) during a fall 2019 event. Great River Energy and several of our member-owner cooperatives – including Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Cooperative Light & Power, East Central Energy, Lake Country Power – partnered to bring the special EV-focused event to Duluth.

Fresh produce grows indoors with electricity

Nobles Cooperative Energy Communications Specialist Tracey Haberman stands near fast-producing lettuce varieties in the co-op’s new GroShed. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

An insulated shipping container equipped with a complete hydroponic growing system sits on the grounds of the Central Lakes College (CLC) Agricultural Campus as part of an Electric Power Research Institute research project with Great River Energy, Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC), Lakewood Health System (LHS) and the college.

This unique, two-year demonstration project began in late 2019. Students from CLC’s horticulture and agriculture degree programs are learning firsthand about sustainable agriculture practices by maintaining and harvesting the produce, which will then be delivered to LHS for its “Food Farmacy” program that feeds more than 600 people monthly.

Throughout this process, Great River Energy and TWEC will collect data for electricity load planning and evaluating beneficial rate designs.

This project will also demonstrate how indoor crop production using efficient electricity, technology, plant sciences and control solutions to create microclimates can produce ideal conditions for plant growth, yield, quality and consistency.

An additional benefit to growing produce closer to home: reducing distance to market, thereby reducing net greenhouse gas emissions. Leafy greens, like those that will be growing inside the container, travel an average of 2,000 miles before reaching a store.