Car charging station pops up in Pine City

Original article from Press Pubs.

Pine City is now an EV-charging destination after a quick charging station was installed at the Family Pathways Thrift Store (800 Main Street S) in downtown Pine City, for electric-vehicle (EV) drivers. The Level 3 DC Quick Charge station enables drivers to charge their batteries to 80 percent in a mere 30 minutes.

This means peace of mind for EV drivers as they head from the Twin Cities metro area to places “Up North.” The technology helps defeat so-called “range anxiety,” the mental anguish that out-and-about electric-car owners feel as their batteries run low.

According to PlugShare, which helps electric car owners locate EV charging stations, there were previously no such chargers between Forest Lake and Duluth.

“We may have been discouraging northbound I-35 travel for certain motorists by not having a station,” said Pine City Community Development Director Nathan Johnson. “Now they can pull off here, grab a quick charge and cup of coffee or rootbeer float and be on their way.”

“We were happy to partner to provide space for these units,” said Family Pathways Director Rich Smith. “As a nonprofit committed to helping people reduce their impact on the environment, we are proud to help expand EV charging opportunities in Minnesota.”


More fast chargers are coming, said Matthew Blackler of Zef Energy, the Minneapolis company largely responsible for this effort. All fast chargers are open to the public and can be accessed with the use of a key fob or phone app associated with a car-charging service provider. A charging session typically runs $3 to $5, a bargain compared to getting a full gas tank.

Not every electric car can use the faster chargers. Some lack the required quick-charger circuitry. Examples of electric cars that are incompatible with fast chargers include the Ford Focus EV, the Mercedes B-Class EV and the Chevrolet Volt, which is a hybrid vehicle that includes gasoline propulsion as a backup.

Fast-charger-compatible cars range from the Nissan Leaf to luxury Tesla models.

“I will certainly appreciate the opportunity to visit my family more often,” said Travis Peterson, who grew up in nearby, rural Kanabec County and now lives in St. Paul. “My Nissan Leaf needed this location; it expands where I can go.”

There will be a grand opening of the charging station Saturday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Family Pathways parking lot near the Level 2 and DC Fast Charger. The launch event will include giveaways and educational opportunities and give the public an opportunity to learn about electric vehicles. 

Matthew Blackler