RED WING -- November will mark the one-year anniversary of Red Wing installing the electric vehicle charger in the parking lot at Plum and Third streets. The electricity is free to use due to local businesses sponsoring the project.

When discussed during the fall of 2018 by the Sustainability Commission, and on Oct. 12 when it was passed by the Red Wing City Council, one of the main topics raised was the charger’s potential for drawing more tourists to the city. The charger is a two-year pilot program so commissioners wanted to to track how often the charger is used and where the users are from.

City Council member John Becker advocated for a way to anonymously track where the chargers live. A system was created that requires those wanting to charge to enter their ZIP Code before plugging in.

According to Evan Brown, the Sustainability Commission’s council liaison, about 85% of those who use the charger are from outside of Red Wing. The highest densities are those coming from the Twin Cities and Rochester.

The charger is used on average once every other day, which can probably be explained by the small number of EVs within Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Department of Transportation notes that in 2017, there were 3,000 fully electric vehicles sold and about 3,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles. While the full EVs on the road today are few compared to hybrid and gas-based cars, Bloomberg forecasts that by the year 2030 worldwide EV sales will jump from 2017’s 1.1 million to 30 million.

Currently, Red Wing has the only EV charger in this corridor of Minnesota. If other local communities, such as Lake City, Wabasha or others decide to install EV chargers, it may result in more people traveling to and through Red Wing and stopping here to charge before driving on to the next towns with chargers.

This prediction is modeled, in part, on the corridor from the Twin Cities to Grand Marais via Duluth, according to Brown. Tourists and those traveling for work can drive up to Grand Marais with the assurance that they will be able to chargeup when needed.

“To me, it seemed obvious that that was nearly all as a tourist corridor,” Brown said.

Next Steps

Now that the Sustainability Commission has the EV charger project up and running, members have begun to focus on other items. Currently, the commission is considering the long-discussed chicken ordinance, climate action -- specifically to meet the goals around climate change in the city’s 2040 Plan -- and possibly a bee-keeping ordinance.

For more information about the Sustainability Commission, visit www.red-wing.org/299/Sustainability-Commission.