One of the most effective ways to break down barriers when it comes to understanding new technology is to get hands-on experience with it. That’s what electric cooperatives across Minnesota are providing consumers by hosting electric vehicle (EV) events that showcase various car models and offer people the opportunity to get behind the wheel.
Several co-ops held their events in conjunction with National Drive Electric Week — a celebration that raises awareness of the many benefits of electric cars, trucks, motorcycles and more — which was recognized from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3 this year.
These events are part of Great River Energy’s and its member-owners’ efforts to spark interest in EVs as research shows their widespread adoption will play a role in increasing energy security, improving fuel economy, lowering consumers’ overall fuel costs and reducing emissions. Hosting ride and drives or show and tells provides a welcoming environment for their members to learn more.
Northern Minnesota EV events
Great River Energy and a collective of its 28 member-owner cooperatives in northern Minnesota (Arrowhead Cooperative, Cooperative Light & Power, East Central Energy and Lake Country Power) hosted an EV Show and Tell that included a discussion panel with EV owners, Ford dealership representatives as well as industry experts. Panelists shared their experience owning an EV and detailed charging technology and charging programs available through their local electric provider.
Following the panel, 14 different EV models from various manufacturers including Tesla, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi were on display with owners and drivers on hand to answer questions and discuss the EV experience.
“It felt like an informational car show where attendees could get up close to a variety of electric vehicle options on display while visiting with owners and industry experts about today’s expanding EV market,” said David Ranallo, director of culture, communications, marketing and member services at Great River Energy. “It was the perfect event for anyone thinking about owning an EV in the near future to get their questions answered and engage in dialogue with people who know this technology best.”
Twin Cities test drives
Closer to the Twin Cities, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) hosted a ride and drive event for its members. More than 270 people attended, with 175 test driving an EV.
“This event was a great opportunity to display the range of EV options for our members,” said WH President and CEO Tim Sullivan. “WH stands ready to help our members on all things EV, from rates to information to chargers.”
Dakota Electric Association, based in Farmington, Minnesota, sponsored the Energy Trends Expo where enthusiastic members who own EVs spoke to attendees.
Todd-Wadena adds EVs to member event
Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative also hosted a ride and drive event that coincided with the co-op’s annual pancake breakfast. More than 400 members attended the event with 150 of them taking advantage of the opportunity to speak with current EV owners and 75 of those either test driving or taking a ride in an EV.