Reporting from our annual recognition ceremonies and inaugural symposia in Minnesota and Massachusetts this spring
Recharge America has annually hosted recognition events in Minnesota and Massachusetts honoring leaders in EVs. This year also marked the first-ever statewide symposia in each state, aimed at providing an opportunity to share lessons learned among Recharge participants. Taking place on March 22 on the campus of Minnesota State University Mankato and on April 12 on the campus of University of Massachusetts Boston, these two events incorporated presentations from state officials, nonprofits, energy partners, and manufacturers on their advances and programs in the EV space. The centerpiece of each gathering was a video showcasing the impact Recharge participants have had across their respective states.
Learners eager to replicate successes in their communities participated in small breakout sessions led by industry leaders working to ensure that the rollout of EVs remains innovative and accessible, providing opportunities to everyone:
- State officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs outlined their priorities and opportunities for implementing National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plans.
- Representatives from energy partners like Xcel, Connexus, Fermata, Eversource, and National Grid outlined their programs for commercial customers that encourage EV charging installation and support grid resilience and planning.
- Businesses including Voltrek in Massachusetts and Design Ready Controls in Minnesota described their public-private partnerships that are driving economic and workforce development.
- Researchers, policy analysts, and students from higher educational institutions — including MSU Mankato, Riverland Community College, Boston University, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute — engaged with participants describing the hurdles ahead so they could lend their expertise to help solve those problems.
- Stakeholders from community groups, like PLACE, HourCar and Good2Go carsharing services, Native Sun Community Power Development, and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, shared their efforts to bring EV access and innovation to Environmental Justice communities.
The goal? Build on the promise that one of the best ways to boost EV adoption is to harness lessons learned from each other. Conversations during these events identified a variety of new initiatives for the coming year:
- Aligning various incentive programs that provide grants and rebates with populations who can’t access them: overnight street parkers, deed-restricted parking spaces, and multifamily rental complexes;
- Conducting outreach to Environmental Justice Communities (EJCs) to bring both EV cars and infrastructure into those communities in ways that truly serve the constituents who live in them;
- Converting fleets of buses, trucks, and service vehicles to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) and supporting their adoption with flexible charging solutions that keep those fleets active on demand;
- Connecting workforce development programs with manufacturing needs, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities;
- Identifying further ways to reduce overall Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs) by connecting bike trails, providing micromobility opportunities, and growing carsharing and ridesharing programs.
Building off community engagement work across these states, the collaborative framework Recharge America is building demonstrates the power of positive storytelling to help realize the promise of an electric transportation system that can serve us all. We’re already looking forward to and planning next year’s symposia!