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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Greater Minnesota: Let's get ready for electric vehicles

Beltrami Electric Co-op held an event last year giving me the chance to drive an electric vehicle, EV for short. What was it like? This spawned a dream of one day owning an EV, though the practicalities of relying on it as my sole transportation seemed to lack needed infrastructure.

Electric vehicles are the future of transportation.

Manufacturers are doubling down on promises to expand electric vehicles and eventually even eliminating CO2-emitting cars completely. Ford wants to have 40 electric models available by 2022. General Motors wants to launch 20 zero-emission vehicles by 2023. Toyota and Nissan are working on plans to eliminate pollution from their cars altogether.

As these cars become more available, they'll give us access to lower-cost fuel that promotes cleaner skies and healthier lives—not to mention supporting manufacturers across the state, like New Flyer in Crookston.

Gov. Tim Walz' 2019 budget requested (woefully inadequate) funding for electric vehicle chargers yet neither the House nor Senate have included this $1.5 million in their budgets. And while the Energy Committee budgets both offer funding for EV chargers, that Renewable Development Fund money would only apply to Xcel territory, not doing much for my Greater Minnesota dream.

The House Transportation Budget proposes funding for the Department of Transportation to install chargers along highways. At least 60% of these funds must be spent in Greater Minnesota—a good thing, as rural residents will require more stations per person to make electric vehicle use feasible.

City dwellers appreciate this in summer cabin season, just as we in Greater Minnesota can appreciate high capacity transit like light rail allowing them to free Interstate 94 lanes for us when we travel to and do business in the Twin Cities. The House transportation budget also provides about $80 million for Greater Minnesota public transit and a gas tax to fund roads/bridges. But the Senate bill includes none of these.

We need to pass the House Transportation bill into law this session. My hope is that you will reach out to your representatives to encourage timely renewable infrastructure development in Greater Minnesota. Let's not get left behind.

Jami Gaither

Shevlin