*This News Story originally appeared in the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan*
A local partnership is helping to plug Yankton into the future.
Thanks to Yankton Thrive and NorthWestern Energy, Morgen Square is set to host the first publically available electric vehicle charging station in the city.
“There was a Volkswagon Grant that NorthWestern Energy applied for and was able to receive that grant, which allows for that station to be placed in Yankton,” Yankton Thrive CEO Nancy Wenande told the Press & Dakotan. “Yankton Thrive got involved because we work with a group called Advantage South Dakota, which is the economic development group that NorthWestern Energy hosts in communities served by NorthWestern.”
NorthWestern Energy Treasurer Dan Rausch told the Press & Dakotan that the grant totals just under $200,000.
Wenande said that charging stations are quickly becoming a reality in some parts of the state.
“Within South Dakota, they’re heavily focused on the interstate areas as well as some tourism destinations,” she said. “Having a charging station in Yankton is great for those who are coming up the interstate or going across and want to jog off for a while and spend some time here in Yankton.”
She said the nearest charging station is currently Vermillion.
Rausch said a major reason for picking Morgen Square had largely to do with the current nature of vehicle charging.
“I wanted to try something that wasn’t at a gas station,” he said. “We Americans (are) an impatient bunch — and so am I. When I got to a gas station and there’s nothing to do, I suppose I can check my texts, text a few people and check my emails, but after about 15-20 minutes, I’m going to get a little jumpy. These (charging stations) we kind of put in the town … to give somebody something to do. You’re going to have a half-hour to kill anyway.”
The charging station at Morgen Square will be able to handle two vehicles at a time.
Wenande said that having the charging station will open the city up to more people.
“From a tourism perspective, there’s a lot of people from outside South Dakota that are utilizing electric vehicles,” she said. “This allows them to have a viable option here as a tourism destination. They can come in, charge their cars, stay a couple of days if they choose to. Maybe they’re camping out at the lake or enjoying some of our other local activities.”
She said that Yankton Thrive is open to the prospect of helping bring more electric vehicle charging stations to the city.
“We continue to explore partnerships with other businesses within the community,” she said. “Having a variety of options of charging stations is also helpful. I know a lot of the car dealers are ordering more electric vehicles for their customers, so I do think the demand for this will continue to grow.”
The Morgen Square electric vehicle charging station is expected to be installed sometime this fall.