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Bohrer: Energy is driving North Dakota into the future

I'm going out on a limb and making a bold prediction that 2018 will be the year of the electric vehicle. From General Motors to Nissan to Tesla, automakers are deeply engaged and planning for new models to hit the market next year. As the technology becomes more affordable, families across the Midwest will start thinking outside the box on car purchases. Take the Burke family, for instance. Steve Burke lives in Bismarck and is an employee of North American Coal. Steve relies on his Chevy Volt for his 40-mile drive to work. When he arrives every day, he plugs in his EV for the return trip. Steve's Volt provides an affordable alternative to his second vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, for his commute. It also plays a part in building North Dakota's economy. When Steve plugs in his Chevy Volt for a quick charge, he's utilizing our state's affordable and reliable electricity, which is largely generated by lignite coal. In fact, more than 70 percent of the state's electricity comes from lignite coal, which provides 15,000 good-paying jobs; $100 million annually in tax revenues to the state; and more than $3.5 billion in economic impact.

North Dakota's homegrown energy from the lignite coal fields is low-cost and clean—whether its powering your car or your fridge. In fact, North Dakota is one of 15 states recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Clean Air State that also meets all the ambient air requirements.

Every day, scientists and engineers in the coal industry are turning innovative ideas into reality. Cars of the future will be fueled by North Dakota's homegrown energy, whether it comes from Bakken crude for Steve Burke's Tahoe or lignite coal for his Volt, you can be sure that energy is driving North Dakota into the future. The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, along with its partners, is committed to helping grow the electronic vehicle industry in North Dakota and Minnesota. We are investing in critical infrastructure, marketing and technology development to make it easier for families to transition to a new EV.

Early in 2018, we'll be cutting the ribbon on our first project — a series of charging locations at Sanford Health's new hospital in Fargo. We know growth in the EV market is good for the state's economy and supports the jobs of the 15,000 lignite workers who provide the boost each car needs. Learn more about what we're doing with electric vehicles at www.secureenergyfuture.org.

Bohrer is president and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council.

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