Recharge Winona EV Test Drive & Expo Was a Huge Success!

The weather was gorgeous, the foot traffic was plentiful, and the atmosphere was fun and electric! On Saturday, September 16, approximately 300 attendees visited the Winona State University campus to see EVs, e-bikes, e-scooters, and exhibitors from across the sustainability field. Many attendees came upon the event serendipitously, just being out and about in Winona that morning. 

Men looking in the trunk of a Toyota BZ4X EV

Representatives from Dahl Toyota showing the BZ4X before taking it out on a test drive

With 7 vehicles available to test drive and 2 more as ride alongs, we were able to complete more than 60 ride and drive experiences over the course of the four hours! Attendees expressed their enjoyment of the whole event, noting how fun it was to drive the cars. Adventure Cycle and Ski had four e-bikes available to ride and counted 125 rides on those, while the Bird scooters rep was equally busy throughout the day.

People walking in parking lot looking at EVs, e-scooters, and e-bikes

Attendees enjoyed talking with EV owners, taking test drives, and trying out e-bikes and e-scooters

One of the most notable aspects of the event was the closeness of the community. Attendees, exhibitors, and volunteers alike greeted each other with smiles, waves and hugs. We heard conversations about how people were neighbors or knew each other from church or whose kids were on teams together. It was absolutely wonderful to see how connected the Winona community is.

The success of the event can be attributed to the dedication of the steering committee, who championed the event across town. Many thanks go out to the City of Winona and Visit Winona, as well as to Winona State University for hosting, and to energy partners MiEnergy Cooperative, Champion Solar and Xcel Energy

Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) Hosts the Mass Black Expo

Runs October 6-8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

One of our core values at Recharge America is that people of all backgrounds should have access to the innovations and emerging technologies that make the world more sustainable and more livable. BECMA is one of our newest Participants in Massachusetts, and they’re already a key partner in helping us extend our work into communities of color. BECMA’s mission of closing the racial wealth gap in the Bay State directs their programming, and the Mass Black Expo (MBE) is one of their signature programs. Christopher Sonnie, Jr., BECMA’s Membership Coordinator, talked with us about what the MBE is and what they hope to accomplish with it. 


  1. Logo for Mass Black Expo: Building Black Wealth

    Register to attend or exhibit at

    Why does the Mass Black Expo exist?
    The Mass Black Expo offers a unique platform where Black entrepreneurs, Black professionals, and Black-owned businesses can collaborate alongside ally organizations. Together, they can join forces to not only bridge the racial wealth gap but also to cultivate and perpetuate Black prosperity. This event serves as a momentous occasion for the residents of the Commonwealth to gather and exchange innovative concepts, working collectively towards the realization of a more dynamic, inclusive, and fair economy.

  2. What positives have come out of the MBE in the past few years?
    The Mass Black Expo held last year drew in an impressive crowd of more than 2,000 attendees, featured an extensive showcase of over 100 exhibitors, and offered a comprehensive program of 30 workshops. This collective gathering provided an unforgettable and profoundly enriching experience for all involved.

  3. Who should attend? What will they get out of it?
    The Mass Black Expo is an inclusive event that welcomes a diverse spectrum of attendees, ranging from college students to young professionals and seasoned executives. This year’s theme, “Building Black Wealth in The Commonwealth,” promises engaging discussions, valuable networking opportunities, and a profound exploration of strategies to foster a more equitable and prosperous economy. It’s an event that holds something meaningful for everyone, making it a must-attend gathering.

  4. What’s new for 2023?
    2023 holds an array of exciting developments in store for us! Anticipate our upcoming expo, which is poised to be BECMA’s most monumental endeavor yet. What sets this year apart are three remarkable additions: the EV Kickstarter Test Drive, the Career Connect Forum, and the immersive Climate and Sustainability Experience.

  5. What are you, personally, most excited about this year?
    I’m personally excited about the EV Kickstarter Test Drive! This exceptional opportunity allows attendees to get behind the wheel of a variety of electric vehicles. Our goal is to equip the Commonwealth for the forthcoming shift towards electric mobility. And who knows, there might even be a Model 3 in the lineup!

Chris concluded by saying, “There’s so much more that we can’t talk about yet. We’re slowly releasing more information in the coming weeks. If anyone is interested in attending or learning more, they can visit” And if you attend, be sure to stop by the Recharge America table in the sustainability hall to say hello!

Volvo’s New Solutions Ease the Transition to Electric for Trucking Fleets

Volvo electric trucks

At Recharge America we like to reflect on the many benefits that accrue when we begin to electrify major areas of the economy. This week we’re celebrating a recent announcement from Volvo that puts those benefits on full display.

Volvo electric trucksVolvo has debuted a program to make fleet conversions to electric a smooth transition for their heavy-duty vehicle customers. As reported this week by Fleet Owner magazine, Volvo’s services are available to all of their North American trucking customers (VTNA).

According to the article, Volvo has partnered with two equipment providers to make EV experts available to any VTNA customers who want to explore their options. Fleet operators will work with representatives from InCharge Energy or Gilbarco Veeder-Root to figure out how much charging they’ll need, how to source and install the equipment, and even the financing for it. VTNA customers will have the ability to choose either sourcing and purchasing the equipment themselves or purchasing charging stations through a VTNA requisition program. Perhaps the most innovative benefit to Volvo’s approach is that they will guarantee charging availability to their customers even while waiting for equipment to be obtained and installed. In other words, because the lead times for heavy-duty EVs and the chargers they require can be long and not in sync with each other, fleets could potentially end up in a situation where they’ve received EV trucks but don’t yet have a way to charge them. VTNA promises to cover that gap.

If you’re reading this and you’re not a heavy-duty fleet operator, you might be thinking “how is this relevant to me?” Fair question. But it’s actually an exciting development in a number of ways:

  1. Medium- and heavy-duty trucking accounts for almost 25% of all the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. Not only that, but these vehicles have gotten significantly less-efficient over time: their emissions are up 78% from 1990 levels. Reducing emissions in this sector would go a long way toward cleaner air for everyone across the country.

  2. Trucks transport about 72% (by weight) of everything that moves around the country. Chances are that whatever you last purchased, ate, wore, or used spent some amount of time being transported on a truck. Trucking touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

  3. The biggest hurdle to EV adoption at any scale — whether it’s a heavy-duty fleet of 100 trucks or a personal vehicle around town — is charging infrastructure. Volvo’s proactive approach to simplifying fleet conversions signals a willingness to find solutions to that hurdle. Solving the problem at such a large scale makes individual, personal adoption seem easy by comparison. And that’s good news for all of us as well.

Energy City Indeed: Recharge Elk River

Minnesota State’s Transportation Center of Excellence hands-on careers trailer

Around 250 attendees from Elk River and the surrounding area came out on August 5 to test out EVs and e-bikes! The event at the Furniture and Things Community Event Center took place on one of the best weather days in awhile, offering perfect conditions for family fun. The steering committee — which included the City of Elk River, Sherburne County, the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce, Xcel Energy, Connexus Energy, and the Energy City Commission — chose a theme of “ElectriFUNcation” and the day delivered!

Vern Iverson’s personal calculations of his savings since 2017

Vern Iverson, a member of the Energy City Commission and an EV owner since 2017, not only shared his Tesla Y but also calculations of his personal savings since switching to EVs in 2017. Attendees had almost a dozen vehicles to look at or drive, with models from Ford, Tesla, Volvo, Kia, VW, and Chevy in the mix. Elk River’s police department even brought their Ford Interceptor electric police cruiser!

The day also focused on careers in electrification, with Minnesota State bringing their hands-on career trailer and Cornerstone Auto, Anoka Technical College, and Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services all hosting tables to talk about available jobs and training.

Test drives in progress. More than 150 e-bike rides and test drives took place over the four hour event.

Events like these not only provide an introduction to electrification, but they foster conversations between neighbors about how and why they’ve chosen EVs. One attendee even let us know this week that since the event on Saturday, they’ve been to the Tesla dealership and ordered their next car! Those experiences can’t be replicated online or just by looking at a car brochure. We’re proud to have helped support this event and look forward to working with the Elk River community in the future.

American Lung Association Report Confirms the Health Benefits of EVs

A newly-released report from the American Lung Association (ALA) confirms that switching to electric vehicles (EVs) will have a significant impact on air quality. The finding seems unsurprising at first glance — of course fewer emissions will mean better air quality — but the scale of the improvement and what it means for public health are the key takeaways.

Chart summarizing findings from American Lung Association reportThe ALA report estimates almost 90,000 premature deaths can be avoided, as well as 2.2 million asthma attacks. Between those and lost work days due to air-quality-related health issues, they estimate almost $1 trillion in public health savings in the next 30 years. The impact that wildfires in Canada have had on the entire northern half of the U.S., just in the past few weeks, demonstrates how disruptive bad air quality can be. The New York Times described the conditions from wildfires as “hazardous to breathe everywhere from Minnesota and Indiana to sections of the Mid-Atlantic region and the south.” They also note that this level of air pollution is common in other parts of the world; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 99% of the world’s population breathes air below acceptable WHO quality standards. Americans are comparatively fortunate in this measure, but the ALA report estimates that 35% of Americans live in zones where air quality is routinely bad.

Granted, the ALA study’s findings rest on an assumption of “100 percent zero-emission new passenger vehicle sales and non-combustion energy generation by 2035.” That assumes a sea change level of adoption for EVs that may not materialize in the next 12 years. The biggest takeaway from these studies and reports, though, is that any effort we make to clean the air will improve the lives of the people breathing that air. The New York Times reported that air quality improved significantly everywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, when far fewer cars were driven. Cab drivers in Bangkok and New Delhi, for example, saw the smog clear over their cities, and it has returned since the end of pandemic restrictions.

At Recharge America, we feel these impacts at a personal level. Stephanie, our national program director, lives in Pennsylvania, in an area where the Canadian wildfires created so much haze that she couldn’t see the mountains almost right outside her door. She commented that her eyes and throat burned after only a minute or two of breathing that air.

View of haze from wildfires in Canada

“There’s a mountain on the other side of the river, just can’t see it today” — Stephanie Dorman, National Program Director

You don’t need to be a climate fanatic or drastically change your lifestyle to make a real impact on the quality of the air you and those around you breathe. Every combustion engine that gets swapped out for an EV contributes to cleaning up the air. It’s just another way that EV adoption benefits entire communities and how the ripple effects radiate outward from the people who drive them.

Successful Recharge Massachusetts Event on Cape Cod

Recharge Massachusetts held a very successful event at the Hyannis Transportation Center (HTC) on June 3! With test drive cars from Tesla, Ford, VW, Chevy, Toyota, and Lucid, plus showcase cars from both dealers and private owners, the attendees had a wide range of options for learning about EVs. The parking lot also served as a demonstration ground for the Steamship Authority’s brand-new electric bus and e-bikes from Sea Coast Cyclery. 

Exhibitors in tent at event   Lineup of cars for test drive48 attendees registered for test drives, with most of them driving two or three different models. Exhibitors under the tent, which was kept lively by a DJ courtesy of Cape Air, included the Cape Cod Commission, Cape Light Compact, Faith Communities Environmental Network, and the Green Energy Consumer Alliance. Energy companies, including Eversource, E2 Solar, and Energy New England, also participated to let consumers know how to qualify for rebates on home energy and EVs.

Despite a blustery, drizzly coastal New England day, a couple hundred attendees turned out for the event. We would like to thank everyone on the steering committee and at the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority for coming together to make this event work!

Introducing the Recharge Team

The Recharge team has undergone some changes in the past few months, and we’re excited to introduce our new team members!

Stephanie Dorman has been our National Program Director since November 2022. She has a clear vision for Recharge America, and she’s driving it forward every day! Stephanie is based out of Pennsylvania.

From Stephanie:
“With over a decade of nonprofit experience, I knew that coming into Recharge America, we’d be able to make such an impact on people around the country. Our team is doing just that, by going into communities with educational events, and then continuing the conversations around workforce and economic equity. We have a great team that is focused on bringing positive changes to people, our environment, and our country.”

Erin Rathe is one of our State Program & Events Managers, and she joined our team in March 2023. With a background in economic development and community engagement, she’s fitting right into the work Recharge is doing. Erin lives in Massachusetts.

From Erin: “I love the work we’re doing at Recharge, because it’s amazing to see all the innovation happening around the country! I’m learning so much about how different each community’s needs and goals are, and it’s such a privilege to be helping them shape their goals and then reach them.”

Madeleine Blum is also a State Program & Events Manager based out of Massachusetts. She joined Recharge America in April and has hit the ground running. With her event skills, she has taken point on working with our partners to make our community events happen in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

From Madeleine: “It is an honor to use my decades of event planning and organizational experience to blossom events that make a positive impact. I’m delighted to be working at Recharge where the goals and mission align with my own passion for sustainability.”

Test Drive EVent in Albert Lea!

Recharge Minnesota held a very successful event at Design Ready Controls (DRC) in Albert Lea on May 5! With test drive cars from Tesla, Ford, VW, and Nissan, plus showcase cars from those manufacturers and more, the attendees had a wide range of options for learning about EVs. VIP guests were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of DRC and a ride around town on an electric school bus, courtesy of Interstate Truck Centers. 

Attendees completed 86 test drives, and DRC estimated delivering close to 400 tours of their facility. Exhibitors included Nuss Trucking, Freeborn Mower Electric Cooperative, Austin Utilities, Riverland College, Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce, MN DOT, and Heliox. Freeborn County 4-H brought kits for kids to assemble their own mini EVs, and food trucks from Nel’s Diner and Just Take the Cake Too were on hand with snacks and lunch options. 

Every test drive generated a donation to Alden-Conger High School’s Supermileage Club and VEX Robotics, student organizations that were also on hand to show off what they do. The Supermileage Club is headed to the world championships in India later this year! The student groups will each receive $2,500 as a result of sponsorships and donations from exhibitors and the community.

Recharge America – Securing the Promise of EVs for Everybody

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!

Recharge MN Spotlight: Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA)

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) views electric vehicles (EVs) as good for both business and the environment. As a result, EVs are an important component of the agency’s “SMMPA 2.0” strategic initiative focusing on environmental and economic sustainability, with a goal of moving its power generation portfolio to be 80 percent carbon free by 2030.

SMMPA generates and transmits wholesale electricity to 18 non-profit, municipally-owned member utilities across Minnesota. The agency announced the development of its EV charging network in 2019, with the goal of installing a DC Fast Charger and 2 dual-port Level 2 chargers in each of their members’ communities. As part of the initiative, SMMPA pays for the equipment and maintenance, so their members are only responsible for covering the installation. ZEF Energy assisted SMMPA with planning, including site and equipment selection. With two-thirds of their members already participating, the project is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021.

“Since up to 90 percent of EV charging typically occurs in the owner’s garage at night, when electric demand is low, utilities can generally handle that load without additional generation,” says Christopher  Schoenherr, SMMPA’s Director of Agency and Government Relations.

Even as the availability of public charging stations continues to grow, some consumers hesitate to make the switch to electric because of “range anxiety” – the fear they may not be able to reach distant destinations. SMMPA’s EV charging network is intended to help alleviate those concerns and expand EV adoption longer term. That’s why the agency’s Board unanimously made the investment in them. 

“To the extent that we get more EVs in people’s garages, that’s where the economic payback will be for us,” says Christopher. “In addition to that, the charging network aligns well with our SMMPA 2.0 initiative to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”

SMMPA hosts a dual-port Level 2 charging station at its headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota that is open to the public, and expects its next fleet vehicle purchase will be an EV. SMMPA works closely with its members on EV marketing campaigns and educational resources, including an EV 101 brochure. The agency also delivered an ad campaign around a Nissan LEAF rebate that became their most clicked digital ad. 

SMMPA is currently in the early stages of exploring an EV sharing initiative, a potential way of introducing residents of smaller communities to EVs. A driver would be able to rent an EV for anywhere from an hour to a week, allowing them to have a hands-on, first person experience to see if it’s right for them. 

Learn more about the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. To download the complete Recharge Minnesota SMMPA case study, click here.