Co-ops provide spark for electric vehicle testing - Great River Energy

Co-ops provide spark for electric vehicle testing

A unique project to introduce the benefits of electrification to organizations and government agencies with fleet vehicles is adding four all-electric vehicles to service in Minnesota.

The transportation sector continues to experience rapid changes due to advancements in electric technology that offer several benefits in fleet applications. Great River Energy created an opportunity to showcase these benefits in real time to fleet operators within its 27 member-owner cooperatives’ service territory that will also deliver insight into how the EVs perform.

The cooperative developed a program to provide financial assistance toward the purchase of a light-duty EV and awarded grants to four agencies that applied:

  • The Eagan Police Department (Dakota Electric Association) received $20,000 toward a Tesla Model Y Performance
  • Hennepin County (Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association) received $20,000 toward a Ford Mach-E
  • The City of Apple Valley (Dakota Electric Association) will receive $10,000 toward a Chevrolet Bolt
  • Lutsen Mountain Resort (Arrowhead Cooperative) will receive $10,000 toward a Taiga electric snowmobile
The Eagan Police Department specifically chose the Tesla Model Y Performance to be used as a patrol vehicle for its range (an estimated 330 miles), interior cargo space and performance.

Through their participation in this program, each agency will allow Great River Energy access to vehicle usage data over the next year that will help the cooperative develop a case study on the performance of EVs in these applications.

“We hope to use the information collected from this project as a way to help others considering similar fleet adoption of EVs by giving them local, real-world data that will help them better understand what to expect when incorporating this technology in their own fleets,” said Rodney De Fouw, member electrification strategist at Great River Energy.

The agencies can expect to realize several benefits from adding EVs into their everyday fleets ranging from lower annual fuel expenses (30 miles equals about $1 when using electricity compared to $3 for gasoline) to a quieter ride for taking calls from hands-free devices on the road to the vehicles providing quick acceleration and performance.

The Eagan Police Department specifically chose the Tesla Model Y Performance to be used as a patrol vehicle for its range (an estimated 330 miles), interior cargo space and performance.

Hennepin County received a $20,000 grant from Great River Energy to put toward a Ford Mach-E.

One of the biggest advantages provided to organizations by using all-electric cars is a reduction in overall emissions. More businesses and government agencies are implementing sustainability goals — some even setting net-zero carbon targets — and adding EVs is one way to help accomplish them.

Hennepin County, for instance, has recently added several EVs to its fleet as it works to cut greenhouse gases from its transportation sources.

“The county’s climate action goal is to achieve net zero emissions in the county’s fleet by 2050,” said Chris Sagsveen, Hennepin County transportation operations director. “The county’s transition to electrify our fleet is an important way for the county to lead by example.”

Another aspect of the project will provide cooperative members with opportunities to see these EVs out at events in their communities, such as parades, or even through a guided tour of the organization’s fleet.

“This project really is about electric transportation education from the demonstration of how an EV performs to showcasing it to people who are curious to see one up close and find out how it compares to traditional vehicles — and how they out-perform them as well,” De Fouw said.

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