Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Make way for electric

New electric car charger installed


October 26, 2017

Lois E. Johnson

From left, Jeff Sheldon, manager of Energy Services and Business Development at Lake Country Power; Matthew Blackler, CEO of ZEF Energy; Tara Dobosenski and Billy Kroon, cutting the ribbon, owners of Doc's Sports Bar and Grill; and David Ranallo, leader of Marketing and Member Services at Great River Energy. The fast charger is in the background.

The ribbon was cut on Wednesday, October 18, to open the new fast charger for electric cars at Doc's Sports Bar and Grill in Sturgeon Lake. This fast charger completes a network of fast chargers along the Interstate 35 corridor, stated Jeff Sheldon, manager of Energy Services and Business Development from Lake County Power, the company that supplies power to the fast charger.

"This is the first fast charger on the Lake County Power system," he said in his remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "This one is the final leg of the system from the Twin Cities to the North Shore. More and more Lake County Power employees are purchasing electric vehicles. You can also charge them at home in your garage. When you charge your car at night, you can take advantage of off-peak power rates from wind energy. This is history making. This completes the last link of the electric gateway to the North Shore."

Matthew Blackler, CEO of ZEF Energy, manufacturer of the fast charger, stated, "The fast chargers have been installed every 50 miles along the Interstate 35 corridor and up the North Shore. We are working with Lake Country Power to get farther up the North Shore in the next six months."

"Electricity is the only energy source that is increasingly cleaner," said David Ranallo, leader of Marketing and Member Services of Great River Energy. "These fast chargers are fueled 100 percent by renewable wind energy."

Several electric cars were on display at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Blackler explained the reason why there are two connections available on the fast chargers.

"One of the connectors is for European and American cars, and the other is for Asian cars," he explained. "There are two places on the car to plug in the connectors. One is for your home charger and the other is for the fast charger. Three lights on the dashboard of the car visible from the outside indicate the level the batteries have been charged."

Home chargers are slower and need more time to charge the batteries on electric cars, he explained. Fast chargers can charge the batteries in 20 minutes.

Blackler said the Nissan Leaf has a range of 110 miles on a charge and the new models will have a range of 140 miles. Electric cars do not need as much maintenance.

"The engine doesn't have to be serviced for 150,000 miles," he said. "And the brakes last three or four times longer because the engine does most of the braking."

The Chevrolet Bolt, also at the ceremony, has a range of 240 miles on a charge, it was said.

"I have a Nissan Leaf," said Fran Crotty, the Electric Vehicle State Program Administrator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "I just love it. I drove the Chevrolet Bolt up here today. After owning an electric car, I would never go back to a gas-powered car."

Also present at the ceremony was a 2013 Tesla, Model S, owned by Jukka Kukkonen of Plug-inConnect from St. Paul.

He took several of those present, including this reporter, on a ride, and demonstrated how much power the car has.

Lois E. Johnson

A new fast charger for electric cars has been installed at Doc's Sports Bar and Grill in Sturgeon Lake. Pictured, the fast charger is charging the batteries on a Nissan Leaf.

"It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds, he said. "And it is self-driving. I can set it to stay in the lane. If I want to pass a vehicle, I turn on the signal light, and the car moves over to the passing lane. If I want to return to the right lane, I just turn on the signal indictor once again. The self-driving feature is only for driving at faster speeds. You still have to drive the car at lower speeds."

Electric cars are becoming more affordable, it was said.

Kukkonen said the Tesla, manufactured in Fremont, California, can be purchased for $70,000 but production on a new model has started. That new model will be available next year for $35,000.

"They already have 500,000 orders for the new model," he said. "Mine is rear-wheel drive, but the new ones will have four-wheel drive."

Fast chargers are located in the Twin Cities, Pine City, Sturgeon Lake, Duluth and Lutsen. Visit the website,, for more information about locations where an electric vehicle can be charged. Visit or on to learn more about the Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners Circle.


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