Xcel works to electrify vehicle-sharing and government fleets

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An electric car-sharing program under development in the Twin Cities is being hailed as possibly a national model for increasing access to low-emissions transportation.

Minnesota regulators previously this month authorized an almost $25 million electric vehicle pilot program from Xcel Energy that, including other provisions, forms a network of 70 “community mobility hubs” in the Twin Cities and constructs infrastructure for electrifying government transportation fleets.

Hourcar, a St. Paul-based nonprofit vehicle-sharing service introduced in 2005, will give vehicles as part of its attempt to transition its fleet to be entirely electric by 2020.

Evenly divided between Minneapolis and St. Paul, the community mobility hubs will have as much as four chargers to serve any electric vehicle owner and Hourcar vehicles.

“This may be the largest public-private investment in electrified shared mobility in the United States,” stated Paul Schroeder, Hourcar’s executive director. “We want to create a zero (carbon) transportation system to be good members and resident of the community. This is a big step in the direction that our values have always pointed.”

Developing community mobility hubs is part of the $9.2 million Xcel will be invested in public charging infrastructure, according to the strategy approved by regulators. The remaining $14.4 million will be committed to government fleet electrification.

The company prepares to set up 200 charging ports for the state, which seeks to electrify 20% of its fleet. The city of Minneapolis is going to have 90 ports installed to prepare for fleet electrification. A third project will set up charging facility on Metro Transit’s first electric bus route in Minneapolis.

The company’s plan calls for planning locations for chargers that would be owned by third parties. Clean energy organizations and several government agencies have lent support for Xcel’s pilot.

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