Riverland looking to add charging stations

ALBERT LEA, Minn. — The use of solar power and electric vehicles is on the rise and some in our area are looking to get on board.

Riverland already houses one solar powered electric vehicle charging station located on their Albert Lea campus.

Austin Utilities is looking to team up with them on their Austin campus to install a two-vehicle station there. They would also like one on the Owatonna campus in the future.

They are looking to get city council approval in the next few months and get started this fall.

It is something they say could give an economic boost to the communities.

“They would allow people on the road to pull into the local communities and, if nothing else, have lunch or walk around in the two hours it would take to charge their electric vehicle,” said Riverland Solar Installation Instructor Steve Vietor.

Students in their solar installer program get to do the work.

“The students learn about the installation requirements, the site assessment and then, of course, the whole installation is covered in the classroom and then we go out and work with the various communities to help them install these,” Vietor said.

The station could cost less than $20,000 but they have already secured a $10,000 donation from the Hormel Foundation and $2,000 from Southeast CERT (Clean Energy Resource Team).

They will be starting up the solar installer program again this fall but with a few changes. It is a hybrid class with online learning plus traveling hands-on labs.

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