Electric transportation celebration

Minnkota and Nodak Electric Cooperative invite the community to two days of EVs, eats and education.


Kaylee Cusack


August 13, 2019

Minnkota’s Grand Forks campus was charged up Aug. 7-8 with two events aiming to introduce local leaders and the public to the present and future potential of driving electric. The events revolved around a two-day visit from the West Fargo Public Schools (WFPS) ell-electric Blue Bird school bus, purchased by the school district earlier this year with support from Minnkota and other partners.

The West Fargo Public Schools 100% electric school bus will begin carrying students later this month. The bus was unveiled June 3 and also made an appearance at TEDxFargo in July. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

Electric bus or bust

The morning of Aug. 7, Minnkota invited its employees and visiting cooperative and municipal representatives to tour the electric bus, ask the mechanic questions about its capabilities and take a short ride around town. Passengers experienced the surprisingly quiet and zippy ride of the 70-seat bus, which boasts a 120-mile range and zero emissions.

That afternoon, Minnkota welcomed city leaders, economic development groups, universities and public schools, transportation officials, lawmakers and more to check out the bus themselves. They came with many insightful questions about what it takes to incorporate an electric bus into a standard fleet and walked away with new transportation ideas for their organizations and neighborhoods.

West Fargo Public Schools mechanic Paul Huelsman fielded questions about the costs and specifications of the Blue Bird Vision Electric bus. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)
Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown (right) and Sen. Curt Kreun took the front seat for a quick trip around the city. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

Plugged In to the Future

On Aug 8., during what may have been the most picture-perfect evening of the summer, Minnkota’s visitor parking lot was packed with powerful plug-in cars, a battery-boosted bus and bikes, special guests and giveaways, and food trucks serving up brisket, street tacos, gyros and more.

With charging stations and electric cars as a backdrop, families found space for a food truck picnic to re-energize themselves. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)
Three local food trucks from Grand Forks and Crookston dished up dinner for attendees. Thanks to New Flavors, Skip's Gourmet Grub and Drafts for joining the fun. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

More than 275 people popped by the cooperative for “Plugged In to the Future” – a “Back to the Future”-inspired celebration of electric transportation. The event was the first of its kind in the Greater Grand Forks community and drew around a dozen electric vehicle (EV) owners from around North Dakota and Minnesota, all of them thrilled to showcase their cars and answer questions for those interested in Teslas, Chevy Bolts, plug-in hybrids and other models.

One driver from Dickinson, N.D., traveled more than 350 miles in his Tesla Model S to take part and offered rides to curious attendees.

Jay Mosbrucker from Fargo was one of several EV owners who made the journey to the event. Drivers were given "Ask Me!" lanyards to let attendees know they were open to questions. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)
Although the event brought in a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolts, a BMWi3 and several hybrid models, Teslas greatly outnumbered the other cars and drew the largest crowds. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)
Dan Widman (right), a Tesla Model X owner from Grand Forks, opened up his car for guests to hop in and get a a feel for the interior. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

“Plugged In to the Future” featured the WFPS all-electric school bus, electric bike demonstrations provided by Scheels and an EV ride-along experience courtesy of Cass County Electric Cooperative.

Whether it was buckling into a Bolt for a ride-along or strapping on a helmet for a cruise on an electric bike, "Plugged In" had a demonstration for everyone. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

For prospective EV owners, Rydell Cars was on-site with a couple of hybrids from their sales lot and details on what additional EV models are available. The Nodak Electric and Border States teams provided information on home charging incentives and the easy steps involved in getting a garage EV-ready.

Once people were able to see some electric vehicles up close, there were representatives on hand to talk about model availability, home charging systems and charging rebate programs. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

A Drive Electric North Dakota representative drove the Lignite Energy Council’s Tesla Model X – aptly named WATTS – from Bismarck and chatted with event-goers about the public charging stations in the state, as well as the opportunities for growing EV adoption in the next few years.

When the food and fun of the main event wrapped up at 8 p.m., guests were invited to grab some popcorn and candy, pull up a car or a lawn chair and enjoy a big screen showing of “Back to the Future” under the stars.

The 16-foot LED screen was a perfect canvas for the 1985 hit, "Back to the Future." (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

Organizers urged attendees to fill out a survey after the event to assess what they learned about electric vehicles. Nearly 99% of respondents said they felt more knowledgeable about EVs after the event and 91% said they were now more open to owning an EV of their own.

Check out what they experienced in this video:

Minnkota Power Cooperative and Nodak Electric Cooperative would like to thank the generous sponsors that helped make “Plugged In to the Future” possible:


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