Electric car charging station open in Redwood Falls at RACC

Chris Schmitz

Public Utilities Superintendent Chuck Heins introduced Resolution No. 60 at the Dec. 1 City Council meeting. The resolution, which was approved by the council, sets electric vehicle charging station rates at the electric car charging stations that are located at the Redwood Area Community Center parking lot. All the infrastructure is installed and the chargers are now operational, after the rates were set at the business meeting.

The electric charging stations are a partnership between the City of Redwood Falls and their power supplier, the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), said Heinz. Zeb Energy, the equipment provider, and SMMP both provided the city guidance on what they felt the standard rates should be for using the charging equipment.

Charging station at RACC.

There are four Level 2 Chargers and one Fast Charger installed at the north side of the RACC’s northern parking lot. The Fast Charger can charge a vehicle to 80% in about one hour. By contrast, the Level 2 Charger can take nine hours to fully charge. Using the Fast Charger will incur a $5 connection fee plus $0.30 per minute; the Level 2 Charger will be set at $2 per hour.

While the Level 2 charging stations are currently operational, there are some equipment upgrades that need to be made and finalized on the Fast Charger. “It should hopefully be available within the next month,” said Heinz, who added that parking in the lot is sometimes scarce and he advises folks to not park in the charging stations who are not using them to actively charge their electric cars. “We really want them available for the people who need them.”

To that effect, Heinz said, “we had to give the parking ordinance some teeth,” referring to the city’s plan to refresh its parking regulations, which will make it illegal to park in the spots designated as electric car charging stations.

The proposed ordinance will be discussed at the Council Meeting on Jan. 4 and will append the Redwood Falls City Code of Ordinances Chapter 9: Parking Regulations. The inclusion of this new section is meant to reserve these spaces for members of the public who will use the charging station equipment while parked in these spaces and will prohibit non-electric vehicles from using those spaces. Without a section addressing these parking spaces, law enforcement would be unable to address any complaints of misuse. The proposed Ordinance No. 68 will make it a parking violation for non-electric vehicles to stop or park in designated areas unless directed by a police officer or in order to directly avoid a traffic conflict. The violation will be a misdemeanor.

Heinz noted that the RACC is an often used facility with a central location that makes it a convenient place for electric car owners to charge their vehicle’s battery.