Minnesota energy coop offers renewable power to electric-car owners

Great River Energy, a Minnesota energy cooperative, is offering renewable power to the state's electric-car owners for the same price as that generated from fossil fuels. The coop provides energy to 650,000 households in Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Thomas Peter/Reuters/File
A staff member plugs a charger cable into Toyota's i-Road electric vehicle in Tokyo. A Minnesota energy cooperative is offering renewable power to the state's electric-car owners for the same price as that generated from fossil fuels.

Many electric-car owners start to think more seriously about the source of their electricity when they plug their cars in to recharge.

And at least in California, data show that owners of plug-in electric cars have far higher interest in photovoltaic solar panels than drivers at large.

Now a Minnesota energy cooperative is offering all-renewable electricity to the state's electric-car owners for the same price as that generated from fossil fuels, in a program it's dubbed Revolt.

Great River Energy (GRE) is a nonprofit electric coop that provides power to 28 distribution coops that serve about 650,000 households in Minnesota and Wisconsin, totaling 1.7 million people.

As in many Midwestern and Plains states, its renewable energy comes from windmills.

It announced the offer two days ago, in conjunction with a display of plug-in electric cars outside its headquarters put on by local electric-vehicle owners.

Attendees at the event could see different makes and models of electric cars up close, and talk with owners about what it's like to drive electric in real life – including in Minnesota's harsh winters.

GRE says the offer is the first of its kind in the nation.

Qualifying vehicles must be able to plug in, meaning drivers of conventional hybrids are not eligible.

Drivers of hybrids and other non-plug-in cars, incidentally, can also sign up to get entirely renewable power from Great River.

It will cost them $108 a year more than conventional electricity, and a 12-month contract is required.

“We’re thrilled to offer this innovative program," David Ranallo, Revolt program manager at GRE, adding that the utility hopes the program "acts as a spark to ignite awareness around electric vehicles in Minnesota.” 

“Electric vehicle owners are already some of the happiest drivers on the planet," added plug-in vehicle owner Jukka Kukkonen, a principal in Minnesota consulting firm PlugConnect, "because they know they’re making a positive impact on the environment."

Kukkonen sees powering cars entirely from wind energy as "bolstering the satisfaction of owning an electric vehicle.”

Standard or off-peak rates are charged for the electricity used to "fuel" the vehicles.

To be eligible for participation in Revolt, a cooperative member must currently own, purchase or lease a plug-in electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle by December 31, 2016.

A household can enroll up to four electric vehicles in the program.

More information about Great River Energy's Revolt program can be found at MNRevolt.com.

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