Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Getting a charge out of N.D...

Posted 6/26/18 (Tue)

There are 16 business places in North Dakota, including two Ford dealerships, that have figured out that oil isn’t going to last forever.

These businesses obviously have a vision for the future and undoubtedly more will be added in the coming years.

Yes, 16 businesses across the state now have recharging stations for electric cars.

So unless you’re already driving a Tesla, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric or Nissan Leaf, you most likely wouldn’t be aware of this quiet revolution that is building electric infrastructure across North Dakota.

Fargo: Luther Family Ford, Element Hotel, West Fargo Sports Arena and Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop; Grand Forks: Best Western Hotel, Nissan of Grand Forks and two stations at Minnkota Power; Jamestown: R.M. Stoudt, University of Jamestown, National Buffalo Museum, Quick Lane Tire and Lube, Jamestown Campground; Sterling: RV Campground; Tower City: Motel and RV Stop and Nissan of Bismarck are currently the places in North Dakota where you can get a charge for your car while traveling.

There aren’t any northern tier charging stations west of Grand Forks, and on the southern tier, Bismarck is the end of the line.

The next closest point west is Miles City, then Billings and there are at least 72 recharging stations in Minnesota, the closest being Rothsay, a little town between Moorhead and Fergus Falls. Most of the points in South Dakota are along Interstate 90, with the exception of Aberdeen and Watertown.

It’s interesting to note that when you cross the Canadian border, you’ll find numerous recharging points. Peavey Mart in Estevan and Weyburn, Saskatchewan, both have rechargers, Regina has at least eight, there’s one in Winkler, Manitoba and 14 in Winnipeg.

There’s also a drive under way for individuals to set up recharging stations for travelers. You can actually have the equipment installed in or near your garage.

We frequently hear the “It’s too cold in this part of the country for electric car batteries. They say the batteries won’t last.”

But when the Canadian government announced it was setting up points all across the Trans Canada Highway, it pretty well dashed that skepticism because North Dakota and Saskatchewan have nearly identical climates.

More recently, the specifications on the new Tesla Model 3, indicate its batteries will operate normally to 40 below zero.

It’s unclear if you can take your Tesla to the Ford dealership (R.M. Stoudt) in Jamestown and have it charged or if your Chevrolet Volt can be charged at Nissan of Bismarck, but the point is, these places are now available when three years ago they didn’t exist.

It seems ironic that outside of Fargo, there are just a handful of places to purchase E-85 ethanol, when 10 years ago just about every Cenex station in the state had it available.

Now it’s electric and apparently these people are thinking 25 to 50 years into the future.

It comes at a time when Denmark, Germany and Sweden have all announced they want to eliminate the use of internal combustion engines; Germany by 2025.

It is said the thirst for oil will last another 40 years, then what? Do we go back to horses or take the shoe-leather express or a bicycle? Just maybe we can drive an electric car because by then, recharging stations will be all over.

There is a down side to this and that is electric cars are expensive. You can buy a used Tesla for about $60,000. The Volt and Focus are cheaper, but still carry a hefty price tag well above $30,000.

We can basically look at this two ways. We can pay a lot of money for these cars with the caveat our gas and oil cost will drop to zero, or, we can wait until more consumers get them and continue paying for the continuing increase in gasoline.

Some of these cars have large enough batteries to give you the power to travel 400 miles. That’s the equivalent of Beach to Wahpeton or Williston to Lisbon. It wouldn’t hurt to have more points along the way, however.

Electric vehicles have been around in Florida, California and Texas for about 20 years already. In fact, in 2000, that’s 18 years ago, the city of Sacramento had a fleet of electric Ford Rangers as part of an industrial experiment between the city of Sacramento and the Ford Motor Co.

Whether the electricity is generated by coal, hydro or nuclear, the power companies are poised for a bright future when you consider this infrastructure across the nation and North Dakota is now springing up.