North Dakota plan calls for electric vehicle charging stations every 50 miles along I-94, I-29

North Dakota's plan for electric vehicle charging infrastructure envisions 18 stations to be interspersed along the interstate highways criss-crossing the state.

A ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station is seen Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, near Interstate 94 off Ninth Avenue East in West Fargo. North Dakota would like to install charging stations along every 50 miles of interstate highway.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — Electric vehicles are growing in popularity but remain a niche market as owners cope with a network of charging stations still in the early stages of development.

But more charging options are in the works for electric vehicle motorists in North Dakota, where Interstate 94 and Interstate 29 have been designated as corridors for placement of charging stations.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s plan calls for 18 charging stations to be spaced about 50 miles apart and located within a mile of an exit along the two interstate highways that criss-cross the state.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is encouraging states to build out a network of charging stations along major highways to enable electric vehicle motorists to travel long distances.

“DOT is really focusing on the traveling public and mobility and access for the traveling public,” said Jennifer Turnbow, deputy planning director for the North Dakota Department of Transportation.


The relative lack of charging stations is limiting the appeal of electric vehicles, said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for AAA.

“We’re finding a lot of people have interest in electric vehicles, but were cautious,” he said, adding that the batteries’ weaker performance in winter also is a limiting factor for some motorists.

“Those are some concerns,” LaDoucer said. “People in the northern states are rightfully cautious and maybe rightfully slow” in adopting electric vehicles.

Increasing numbers of motorists, however, are turning to electric vehicles because they are affordable to drive, he said.

An electric vehicle charging station.
Forum News Service file photo

AAA’s 2022 car guide ranks six electric or hybrid vehicles in its top 10 picks because of money saved from fuel economy. A survey by AAA found up to 25% were interested in an electric vehicle as their next vehicle.

Besides the need to roll out more charging stations, electric vehicle owners also have fewer options for mobile refueling, which isn’t a problem for conventional autos, although options are improving in larger metro areas, LaDoucer said.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said, noting the chicken-and-egg problem facing electric vehicles. Charging stations, he said, will increase along with the ownership of electric vehicles, but some consumers will hesitate to buy electric vehicles until charging stations are more conveniently and strategically located.

“A lot of it comes back to having the infrastructure in place to support the growing number of vehicles,” LaDoucer said. The plan to install charging stations at regular intervals on North Dakota interstates, he added, will “jumpstart” expanded charging infrastructure.


So far, about 400 electric vehicles are registered in North Dakota, with another roughly 370 plug-in hybrid autos — but that segment is expected to show significant growth in the coming years.

Electric vehicles now make up about 0.44% of all light-duty vehicle sales in North Dakota, but are forecast to reach 3% by 2030, 7% to 9% by 2035, 12% to 16% by 2040 and 18% to 25% by 2045, according to state estimates.

“A lot of the car industry is turning toward electric vehicle goals,” Turnbow said. LaDoucer agreed: “All indications are electric vehicles are the vehicles people are going to be driving in the future.”

The establishment of a network of fast-charging stations along interstate highways is supported by bipartisan infrastructure legislation passed by Congress last year, which will provide $25.9 million in federal support. With a state match of $6.4 million, total funding for the initiative will be $32.4 million.

Electric vehicle enthusiasts gathered at the North Dakota Capitol during a tailgate event June 17, 2021.
Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Department of Transportation

State transportation officials are hoping the plan will be approved by federal officials in September. State officials also are awaiting more federal guidance.

“There’s just a lot of questions we need to work through in the process,” Turnbow said.

Once the plan is approved, the state will be seeking firms that can design, build, maintain and operate the charging stations. Construction likely will be during 2024 and 2025, she said.

In another development, Xcel Energy has set a goal of 1.3 million electric vehicles in its eight-state service area, including North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, by 2030.


Xcel, which had an energy portfolio that was 62% carbon-free in 2020, aims to have 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2050. The company recently filed proposals in Minnesota and Wisconsin for electric vehicle charging programs that Xcel said would make charging at home “easy, fast and more affordable for all customers.”

The proposal also includes expanded solutions supporting public charging, businesses, multifamily buildings, community charging, transit and electric school buses.

The proposal would significantly increase the number of public charging stations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, making it easier for drivers to charge on the go, by adding about 750 high-speed charging stations across the two states, including up to about 1,500 charging ports total by 2026.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address:
Phone: 701-367-5294
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