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Charge! Duluth’s first electric-car-charging station operational

Josh Clark works in downtown Duluth and, until now, hasn’t had a place to plug in his 2013 Chevrolet Volt electric car during the day.

Now he does.

City officials today unveiled their new electric-car-charging station at the Depot-Duluth Public Library parking ramp downtown off Michigan Street.

“I’ve mostly had to charge at home overnight. But this gives me a nice option to be able to top-off while I’m at work,” said Cark, one of the Northland’s small but growing clan of electric car owners.

It’s the first public charging station in the city. The University of Minnesota Duluth announced its first electric-car-charging station in March but still hasn’t hooked it up. That’s expected to happen this summer. Benna Ford in Superior also is slated to install a public charging station soon, city officials said today.

Meanwhile, Minnesota state agencies are entering the fray with plans to add charging stations at state parks and along Interstates and major highways. About 50 of the stations already have been installed in Minnesota, although most are in the Twin Cities. Plans also are in the works to add multiple stations at the Duluth Transit Authority Transit Hub facility proposed for downtown.

The only other charger in the Northland is at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.

“Even before we put this in we were getting calls from people in the Twin Cities wondering if we had them available,” Matthew Kennedy, Duluth’s parking manager, said. “It’s mostly been people who are visiting here or passing through who need a place to charge. But we’re starting to get a few local people who own them as well.”

It’s all part of a plan to create a system, or infrastructure, for the new wave of electric and electric-hybrid vehicles like the Volt. The chargers can refill vehicle lithium-ion batteries from 110-volt current in about eight hours (for a nearly drained cell) or four hours with 220 volts. The Duluth charger can do both.


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