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Halstad Municipal Utilities and Marshall County awarded grants to install electric vehicle charging stations

Halstad Municipal Utilities and Marshall County were both awarded Clean Energy Resource Teams Seed Grants to install electric vehicle charging stations in Halstad and Warren, Minnesota.

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The Halstad Elevator Co. grain elevator and town sign.
Mikkel Pates / Agweek
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GRAND FORKS — Two towns in northwestern Minnesota soon will be part of the state’s electric vehicle charging network, thanks to grants from the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams.

Halstad Municipal Utilities and Marshall County both were awarded Clean Energy Resource Team, or CERT, Seed Grants to install electric vehicle charging stations in Halstad and Warren, Minnesota.

The projects in Halstad and Warren are just two of 74 CERT Seed Grants awarded to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across Minnesota. The $330,000 in available grants was funded by the Minnesota Department of Commerce with an additional award this year from the Morgan Family Foundation. While the grant is awarded to a variety of projects regarding clean energy, six of this year’s grant-winning projects across the state are related to electric vehicles.

Halstad Municipal Utilities was awarded $5,000 to install an electric vehicle charging station in downtown Halstad. Lucas Spaeth, Halstad Municipal Utilities superintendent, says level two chargers, which are the type the utility service plans to install, can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

The charger in Halstad is slated to be installed on the corner of First Avenue West and Minnesota Highway 200, near U.S. Highway 75 and the town’s roadside attraction, the “ World’s Largest Sugar Beet ” sculpture.

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“The center of town should be accessible and easy, with minimal infrastructure needed to make it work,” said Spaeth.

Marshall County was awarded a $4,000 grant to install a charging station in Warren. Marshall County Auditor-Treasurer Scott Peters declined to talk about any plans to install a charging station or how electric vehicle charging infrastructure might impact the community. County Commission chair Sharon Bring said the commission had yet to discuss an electric vehicle charging station project.

As far as Spaeth knows, nobody in the Halstad Municipal Utilities system owns a fully electric vehicle.

“If the grants weren’t available, it’s kind of wishful thinking, because we don’t have any kind of need for it,” said Spaeth. “Until we do.”

According to Shannon Stassen, northwest CERT coordinator, communities large and small are at a tipping point for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In small communities like Halstad and Warren, few people own electric vehicles, and those who do primarily charge at home. But, as electric vehicles become common, having charging infrastructure in place can put a town on the map.

“It is a really beneficial thing to have charging infrastructure in your community because at this point, without a complete buildout of infrastructure, people will plan their traveling around where those charging stations exist,” said Stassen. “So, for instance, they would drive to Halstad and stop there, plug in and have a bite to eat and then get back on the road to finish their trip to Grand Forks.”

Already, charging infrastructure is growing in the region. The first charging station in East Grand Forks was installed in November 2021. According to PlugShare, an online map of charging stations, Thief River Falls has one charging station and Crookston has two. Hillsboro, North Dakota, about 20 minutes from Halstad, has one charging station, which was funded by a grant from the State of North Dakota .

Stassen says residents of northwest Minnesota can expect to see charging infrastructure expand in the near future.

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“We know that other communities and electric utilities are all looking at installations, and some have already taken place,” said Stassen. "There will be even more going in in the next couple of years.”

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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