Student project helps city plan for electric vehicle infrastructure

Statewide trends indicate enormous growth potential in the market share for electric vehicles (EVs) in the next decade. The city of St. Anthony, which straddles Hennepin and Ramsey counties in the Twin Cities metro, worked with the U of M last semester to gain guidance for mapping its own electric future. The city is one of the 2019–2020 community partners in the U’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP). 

Two people standing in front of Saint Anthony Village City Hall and Community Center
Photo: Saint Anthony

“This is a timely topic that larger communities around St. Anthony, including St. Paul, Golden Valley, and St. Louis Park, have started exploring in recent years, but our small-city size poses challenges when trying to find resources and staff time to explore this topic on our own,” says Jay Hartman, public works director with the City of St. Anthony Village. (St. Anthony is also known as St. Anthony Village.)

The number of St. Anthony residents who have purchased EVs continues to rise, Hartman says, and city hall staff receive more frequent inquiries and requests to make EV infrastructure available. The goal of the project was to explore the feasibility of an EV–charging infrastructure network in St. Anthony using case-study research and community feedback.

Kimberly Napoline, a Master of Public Policy candidate in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, conducted the project in an independent study course. Her advisor was Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School.

To guide her research, Napoline conducted a stakeholder analysis that included meetings with St. Anthony’s city council, its Parks and Environment Commission, the Citizens for Sustainability Group, and the Minnesota EV Owners group. She then studied EV charging policies and programs of other Minnesota cities and compiled issues for St. Anthony to consider.

One key issue is the different types of charging stations. “The three main types come with their own cost and electrical capacity limitations,” she says.

Standards are also needed to ensure that EV infrastructure is developed in a consistent way; these include policies such as zoning, subdivision ordinances, and parking regulations. “Also, if a firm or individual wants to install a charging station, it’s important for the permitting process to be transparent, consistent, and relatively simple to navigate,” Napoline says.

Based on her initial research and conversations, Napoline recommends several locations for EV charging stations in St. Anthony, including city hall, Silver Lake Village Shopping Center, and Silverwood Park. “These sites come with particular advantages that make them perfect for an electric vehicle charging station,” she says.

“Kimberly has done an outstanding job getting this project off the ground,” Hartman says. “We now have a starting point. In her final report, Kim has provided our staff direction as to the next steps we will be working on in summer of 2020 and beyond.”

Napoline’s report is available on the RCP website. RCP, housed within the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, connects local government agencies with U of M students and faculty to advance community resilience and student learning. Other RCP community partners this year are Scott County, the City of Ramsey, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, and the League of Minnesota Cities.


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