PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Drivers of electric cars and trucks could soon find South Dakota more hospitable.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has awarded $406,245 to help pay for seven charging stations in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, Mitchell, Chamberlain, Murdo and Wall.
They will be level-3 type fast chargers, that in an hour can repower a passenger vehicle for up to 200 more miles. The total cost for the equipment will be $1,315,291.
Recipients of the subsidies are West River Electric Association, Watertown Municipal Utilities, Northwestern Energy, Brookings Municipal Utilities, West Central Electric and Sioux Valley Energy.
Now the state Board of Minerals and Environment wants to look at putting more money into it.
The board informally agreed Thursday that the department should shuffle some of the remaining funds in the Volkswagen diesel-mitigation $8 million settlement.
“There’s an inadequate number of them (charging stations) across the state now,” chairman Rex Hagg of Rapid City said.
The board received a summary about the VW money from Barb Regynski, an environmental scientist in the department’s clean-air program.
Regynski said subsidies for the seven charging stations had used all but $5 of the money that was earmarked for them. She suggested $782,000 tagged for the VW settlement’s administrative expenses could be tapped for more stations. Money also could be shifted from the buses portion.
The timetable calls for a 30-day public notice period, followed by a 30-day period for the public to send comments to the board, and then the board’s consideration and a decision.
Next came a presentation from Robert Raker, public relations manager for West River Electric, and Ben Pierson, beneficial electrification manager for Sioux Valley Energy.
Pierson and Raker showed a map of the seven communities that will be funded and seven more — Vermillion, Huron, Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, Spearfish and Hot Springs — that could be next if a second round of subsidies becomes available.
Tesla for its vehicles already has a string of nine charging stations in South Dakota that are mostly along I-90, with one at Vermillion on I-29.
Hagg said he’d like electric vehicles from other manufacturers be able to get across South Dakota. “It looks very strategic to me. I appreciate that,” Hagg told Raker and Pierson about their layout.
Board member Dennis Landguth of Rapid City, who retired as state transportation secretary, said rest areas along the two interstate highways are designed for short stops and agreed they wouldn’t be good spots for charging.
Regynski noted that state law prohibits most commercial activities at rest areas.
Said Hagg, “I think there is money to re-disperse a little bit.”