Steele-Waseca installs two electric vehicle chargers

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric in November completed the installation of two electric vehicle (EV) charging stations (four plug-ins in total) located in the front entrance parking lot at its headquarters in Owatonna.

Steele-Waseca Operations Engineer Steve Nordahl lead the project and is pleased the co-op can offer electric vehicle charging. The chargers are available to anyone’s EV and charging rates are published on PlugShare, a website and smartphone app that shows where EV owners can charge their vehicles. Steele-Waseca’s location is found at:

“Steele-Waseca has wanted to install chargers for quite some time,” said Nordahl. “The cost of these DC chargers was relatively low. With this we could install DC chargers at a fair cost and not have to install Level 2 chargers.” Level 2 chargers are slower than DC chargers and are more commonly found at resident’s home garages for overnight charging. 

As for the time required to charge an electric vehicle, Nordahl stated, “It depends on the car as each car takes the charge at it’s own rate.” Steele-Waseca’s charge at a rate of 40 kW DC, which equates to 30-40 miles per 15 minutes. The chargers do not have the Tesla connector, but Steele-Waseca has one available at the front desk to borrow. Simply leave your license as a deposit during business hours. 

A unique aspect of Steele-Waseca’s chargers, compared to many other charging sites is where the power is sourced. The co-op’s solar garden (complete with pollinator habitat) supplies the two DC chargers during daytime hours. “Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric also sees this as a great way to provide renewable energy to the car market for CO2 reduction,” said Nordahl. Otherwise, it is from Steele-Waseca’s distribution grid. 

Steele-Waseca funded part of the installation with grants from their wholesale energy provider, Great River Energy (GRE), and CIP (Conservation Improvement Program) grants. 

“This benefit of a DC fast charger will bring people needing a charge off the freeway to use Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric chargers,” said Nordahl. He noted one gentleman was on his way from the Twin Cities to Austin for a meeting and stopped on the way down, and then again on his way back through Owatonna. 

Nordahl said payments can be made through Google or Apple Pay, Ford App, or with a credit card. 

Steele-Waseca utilized Master Electrician Joel Dulas for the electrical work past the transformer. The co-op’s line crews installed the high voltage cables and transformer from the solar garden transformer. Nordahl said Ethan Cords from Spark Plug, LLC, commissioned the chargers and is a local technician.