New Ulm will have charging station

NEW ULM — Electric vehicles could become more common in New Ulm with the installation of a charging station.

During Tuesday’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting, the commission issued a purchase order for electric vehicle (EV) charging station equipment.

Assistant Utilities Director Kris Manderfeld said it is PUC’s view that EVs are expected to increase. As technology improves, the costs for these vehicles will go down and the range will increase. EV models released this year have a range of over 200 miles.

The current retail price of residential electricity per mile is approximately 5 cents per mile.

In order to meet this new demand, the PUC asked to install a station in New Ulm. The city does not currently have an EV station.

The intended location for the EV charging station is in the city parking lot at German and 2nd North Street, across from the German Bohemian monument in German Park.

The PUC budgeted $25,000 for the charging station, but the bid for the equipment and installation came in at $13,699. This includes a three-year commercial data plan for the station.

This will allow the installation of a level 2 charger which provides 100 miles of range in approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

An extra fee will be added to the station to recover the capital costs. Manderfeld said this additional fee would be an extra $1 for the first hour the EV was charged. Users will need to set up an account to access the charging station. The money would be collected digitally by the equipment providers.

Commission President Linda Heine asked how much usage was expected from the station.

Manderfeld said staff was unable to predict the usage of the station. Staff will bring the rates to the PUC next month.

The location of the charging station would be posted on a charge point network. Out-of-town travelers with an EV will be alerted that New Ulm has a place to recharge.

“We believe this installation is going to help insure New Ulm is not avoided by EV drivers,” Manderfeld said. “It could possibly lead to additional stops in New Ulm as these vehicles increase.”

The PUC hopes to have the charging station in place by Oktoberfest.

In other news, the PUC electrical systems experienced multiple feeder break operations on July 31 resulting in a brief power outage. The break was caused by a high fault current tripping the tie between the Center Street Substation and the power plant. In response, an engineering firm made recommendations to change relays on the systems to prevent this problem in the future.