North Dakota coalition working on electric vehicle infrastructure challenges | Prairie Public Broadcasting

North Dakota coalition working on electric vehicle infrastructure challenges

Dec 13, 2019

North Dakota Department of Transportation Strategic Innovation Manager Linda Sitz testifies before the Legislature's Interim Agriculture and Transportation Committee.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A coalition is working to make sure the infrastructure is in place as the use of electric vehicles expands in North Dakota.

And that means charging stations.

"In North Dakota, we have 150 electric vehicles, and 175 plug-in hybrids registered," said North Dakota Department of Transportation Strategic Innovation Manager Linda Sitz. She told the Legislature's interim Agriculture and Transportation Committee the state now has 22 charging stations.

"Our goal is to increase the number of charging stations across the state, to inure confidence driving without fear of not having charging stations available," Sitz said.

Sitz told the Committee the intent is to put charging stations in key DOT district offices. And she said there are plans to build up the state fleet of electric vehicles.

"We're also researching electric snowplows," Sitz said.

North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality environmental scientist Angela Seligman speaks to the interim Agriculture and Transportation Committee.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

One source of money for charging stations could be the state’s share of the settlement in the EPA’s lawsuit against Volkswagen.

The case concerned the company’s falsifying of emissions data from its vehicles.

Angela Seligman of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality told the committee North Dakota will receive $8.1 million from that settlement – and the Legislature has authorized $2.7 million to be spent in the current fiscal year. But she said one of the items without much wiggle room is the percentage of money that can be spent on “zero emission vehicles.”

"These are the charging stations," Seligman said. "We are only allowed to spend up to 15 percent of our total funds on charging stations."

Seligman said DEQ has received 19 applications for charging stations, and will winnow them down before any award is made.