Minnesota Power, an ALLETE company (NYSE:ALE)  is purchasing 20 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that it will donate to business customers for installation at their site, along with up to $1,500 for each business to help pay for installation.

The initiative is part of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward plan that includes increasing the number of publicly available EV charging stations in northeastern Minnesota. The company is encouraging commercial customers from various geographic areas, organizations, businesses or other entities to apply for the program at https://www.mnpower.com/Environment/ElectricVehiclesServiceEquipment.

Examples of prime locations include hotels, resorts, retail centers, downtowns, parks, multi-unit dwelling complexes, government centers and nonprofits. Minnesota Power will select the recipients of the chargers based on location and the suitability of each site for the program. In addition to a free charger (valued at about $5,000), Minnesota Power will rebate participants for installation expenses up to 80 percent of the cost, with a maximum rebate of $1,500 per business.

“We see more EVs on the road every day because they are fun to drive, economical to operate and offer a great way to reduce carbon emissions,” said Frank Frederickson, Minnesota Power vice president of Customer Experience. “We are excited to offer our support to expand the charging network in our region for Minnesota Power customers and visitors. We’re even more excited that these chargers will fuel EVs with our safe, reliable and affordable power that is 30 percent renewable now and soon to be 50 percent renewable by 2021.”   

As EV adoption grows, charging stations are good for business because they help attract and retain customers who stay longer and return frequently. Surveys show a large majority of EV drivers make a purchase when charging at a retail location, and most prefer to shop at businesses that offer EV charging.

Participants in the program must meet the following requirements:

- Be a Minnesota Power customer

- Dedicate a minimum of two parking spaces to EV charging

- Access to 240-volt electric service

- Contract with an electrician and/or other contractors to install the equipment

- Be within a quarter-mile of an area where people can spend time while charging their EV

- Close to retail, restaurants, parks or other amenities

- Have dusk-to-dawn lighting

- Accessible to public 24/7

- Site hosts are responsible for electric usage and demand charges on their account

- Site must have snow and ice removal for year-round charger access

- Agree to terms and conditions in a donation agreement

The Level 2 smart chargers will have two connectors or ports, and depending on the charging unit the properly sized wire and breakers must be installed. The units will come with a five-year warranty, data, and a maintenance plan. Site hosts will have the capability to monitor and control charger use through an online portal. Site hosts also will have the ability to charge EV drivers for their electricity usage.

Minnesota Power will review applications on a case-by-case basis to determine the suitability of each site for this program. Applications are due Nov. 1, 2019. 

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