County axes electric vehicle charging station

A proposal to be part of a Clean Cities National Parks initiative to bring electric vehicle charging stations to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park has been shelved by Anoka County.

Last month the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Committee authorized an application to be made for the county to be an implementation site for two electric vehicle charging stations.

It would be have been funded by a grant, while the committee added a caveat that a fee system had to be put in place to cover operations and maintenance costs.

The county had been approached by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the National Park Service to gauge its interest in being an implementation site for a grant proposal by the American Lung Association and the National Park Service to the Clean Cities National Parks initiative.

But at it last meeting May 3, the committee rescinded its action on the recommendation of department staff.

According to a staff report to the committee, the application is not warranted after further consideration in the context of long-term maintenance and operations costs and concerns that have been expressed by the public and Anoka County Board members regarding the grant program and its intended uses.

However, the committee’s action to rescind its previous action produced a discussion at the May 8 county board meeting even though it was listed as an information item on the committee report to the board.

County Commissioner Dan Erhart sparked the discussion.

In his view, the county should have moved forward with the project, showing leadership in helping to promote alternative fuels for vehicles, given the country’s dependence on oil, Erhart said.

“This would be a small step,” he said.

And Erhart said it would have been a profit center.

While the county was planning to charge $1 every time a station was used to charge an electric vehicle, his research showed that the cost to the county would be only 48 cents, according to Erhart.

But Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah said that there are privately owned charging stations in the county and the county would be setting up in competition with them.

County Commissioner Andy Westerberg, who chairs the board’s Public Works Committee, is the county’s representative on the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board.

In a recent vote to support the program in the metro area, which passed 7-6, Westerberg said he voted no because there are so many variables.

“The dollars would be better spent in support of mass transit, like buses, in population centers,” he said.

Moreover, the electric charging stations that are open in the county, one at Kwik Trip in Coon Rapids and the other at Goodwill in Blaine, do no charge a fee for electric vehicle charging.

According to Westerberg, he has never seen anyone use the charging station at Goodwill and all it does is take up parking spaces.

In deciding not to move forward with the project, County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the committee felt that the proposal was “ahead of its time.”

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]

  • Joe

    Wow, your decision to hold off on a charging station. With the cost of charging station installation you could buy a tire for a bus. Sounds like money well spent.

  • Ethan Campbell

    This is seriously one of the stupidest things I have ever read. If the charging station was free, then install it and move on. This would not create competition, because no one in their right mind would park their electric car at a park overnight to charge it, just to get out of plugging it in at home (and then walk home). Assuming some one did do this the county would get 52 cents per unit per day, and I am pretty sure the park is closed to visitor at night. This would have been an easy oppurtunity for Coon Rapids to take a green initiative. My name is Ethan Campbell and if I am elected Council Member at large I would’ve supported this ev charging station.

    • Sunny

      You won’t be getting my vote

  • Mel

    One thing I noticed is one of the charging stations is at a GAS STATION?!?! I do realize these still require gas, and if you look at it, yes, it makes sense, but it’s only at one station not at the whole chain of stations (like Holiday’s E85) Second, if a person can afford an electric/hybrid car, I’m sure they are NOT shopping at the Goodwill. I feel that most of the people who want to spend the money for an electric car are very aware of the air quality and are people who spend a lot of time camping, hiking, kayaking, etc. These ARE the people who would spend a lot of time at a County Park, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind spending $1 to charge their car. One thing is they may not want to hike all the way back to their car to unplug it an move it so someone else could “plug-in”.

  • Common Sense

    Oh, please. Free so move on? Free like welfare? Its all tax money…these supposed grants. Unlike Manna from heaven, these are taxpayers dollars. Free…HA

  • Sunny

    The county did well to not take the “free money”.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Some clarifications. The charging station at the Coon Rapids Kwik Trip is a Level 1 charger, aka a standard 120-volt outdoor outlet. All of the newer Kwik Trip stations have these as the Wisconsin-based chain rolls out their new “green” stations. The charger at the Blain Goodwill store is a 240-volt Level 2 charger that the building developer added so the building could add more points toward a green building certificate. It cost the charity nothing, according to the store’s manager.

    I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to attend this meeting to expain our goals a little more clearly.

    Robert Moffitt
    Communications Director
    American Lung Association in Minnesota