Cities Charging Ahead!

Cities Charging Ahead!was a peer cohort of 28 cities that worked together across Minnesota to explore electric vehicle readiness. Participating cities received technical assistance focused on actions and best practices, based on the GreenStep Cities program, that accelerated the adoption of electric vehicles.      

Cities Charging Ahead! (CCA) was led by the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs). Funding was provided through the Carolyn Foundation, Energy Foundation, and in partnership with Xcel Energy, which provided resources and support in line with the company’s long-term clean energy plan to electrify transportation.  

On this page, you can read more about CCA process and what cities were able to accomplish over the yearlong process. You can also access some of the key tools and resources that resulted from the cohort. 

The map below shows the locations of participating cities. 

cities charging ahead


At the beginning of CCA, cities were asked to identify one or more GreenStep Cities Best Practice Actions they wanted to work toward over the course of the effort. Many cities chose to focus on adding electric vehicles to fleets, installing charging stations, and/or guiding private development through incentives or ordinances. Additionally, several cities identified wanting to work electric vehicle-readiness components into their comprehensive plan.   


Of the 28 participants in Cities Charging Ahead!, 12 cities have purchased, leased, or plan to purchase a total of 21 electric vehicles (EVs)!

  • Four cities included EVs in their purchasing plan for 2020: Eagan (4), St. Louis Park (3), Duluth (2), and Maplewood (1)   
  • Four cities purchased EVs for their city fleet: Bloomington (2), Woodbury (3), Eagan (1), Elk River (1) 
  • Four cities leased EVs for their city fleet: Eagan (1), Morris (1), Elk River (1), Burnsville (1) 

Eleven cities installed or plan to install a total of 27 charging stations.

  • Six cities have plans to install charging stations in public parking areas: St. Louis Park (6), Rochester (4), Coon Rapids (2), Bloomington (2), Morris (1), Fridley (1) 
    • Five cities installed charging stations at strategic community locations. Eleven stations are Level 2 (equivalent to a 240 volt plugin), and two stations are DC fast chargers. Cities include: Burnsville (5), Elk River (3), Red Wing (1), Morris (1), Eagan (1)  


Thirteen cities either accomplished or are working towards implementing guidance on EV-ready development in the private sector:

Rochester, St. Louis Park, Inver Grove Heights, Faribault, Coon Rapids, Falcon Heights, Red Wing, White Bear Lake, Bloomington, Woodbury, Duluth, Elk River, Maplewood 

What’s Next?

The participants CCA would like to continue meeting periodically to share resources and updates. There are a few cities working on similar projects that plan to coordinate their efforts and meet more regularly.  

The resources developed through CCA can be accessed at the bottom of this page. The tools include materials to increase awareness within communities, address perceived barriers, and highlight the benefits of adopting EVs. 

A new effort is being launched to work with municipal utilities in a peer cohort to increase EV adoption within municipal utility territory.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s next, contact Diana McKeown, MetroCERT Director. Additionally, sign up for the Drive Electric Minnesota newsletter where we’ll be communicating about the municipal utility effort and any follow-up from CCA.    

Case Studies

One of the most prolific aspects of the Cities Charging Ahead effort was the ability of the participating cities to share and collaborate with one another on different projects. Great Plains Institute investigated some of the more ambitious and creative projects completed during the CCA effort and wrote case studies detailing the projects and what made them so successful and innovative. Each of the studies below tells the story of a real action taken during the CCA effort by a participating city. 

  • The Red Wing DC Fast Charger: Businesses in the City of Red Wing, MN were a prime example of the forward-thinking needed to accelerate the adoption of EV infrastructure. Read about Red Wing’s experience and get some tips about how to implement something similar in your community.
  • DC Fast Charger Collaboration Along Minnesota’s North Shore: The draw of a popular tourist destination and an enterprising partnership created a win-win situation for EV drivers and Minnesota communities from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border. Learn how city-utility collaborations can make these projects feasible.
  • Capital Improvement through Charging Stations in Edina: The City of Edina approved spending $25,000 on charging stations in its 2019 capital improvement plan and installed its first station along 50th and France. Learn about the city’s decision-making process on where to add charging stations in the community, lessons learned, and advice for other cities.
  • Electric Vehicle Outreach Through Community—Events in Fridley, Minnesota: The City of Fridley is working to increase electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the community by showcasing EVs at events. Increasing EV adoption would help to meet the city’s goals in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
  • EV Pool Party: Elk River’s New Outlander: Elk River’s study allowed the city to track usage data for 20 vehicles between the two fleets. After a year of data collection, FleetCarma presented the city with a report detailing potential options for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) to replace existing fleet vehicles.

Recorded Webinars

CCA staff presented six webinars over the course of the cohort. These webinars are available to watch below. 

  • Webinar 1Introduction to Cities Charging Ahead!
    Diana McKeown, Metro Clean Energy Resource Team director, kicked off Cities Charging Ahead! and laid out goals for the participating cities. Tom Sagstetter of Elk River Municipal Utilities (ERMU) presented on a recently completed fleet study of the ERMU and Elk River municipal fleets and the subsequent effort to purchase more EVs. 

Watch Video →

  • Webinar 2All About Charging Electric Vehicles: With presentations from the Great Plains Institute, Fleets for the Future, and ZEF Energywebinar 2 explores EV charging from the ground up. There is information for everyone, from someone brand new to EV charging to tips and tricks for ensuring a DC fast charging project goes as smoothly as possible. 

Watch Video →

  • Webinar 3: Guiding Private Development: Webinar 3 discusses what it means to be an EV-ready city and explored what cities could do to help guide the private sector toward more EV investment. This webinar coverws everything from green building codes to zoning requirements and permitting.

Watch Video →

  • Webinar 4Fleet Studies Among CCA Cities: CCA cities used fleet studies to examine driving patterns and trends and identified which of their fleet vehicles were best suited for electrification. Coon Rapids and Faribault presented on their studies and provided guidance on what to look for when electrifying a municipal fleet. 

Watch Video →

  • Webinar 5: How to Host a Ride and Drive: Ever wanted to organize an EV test drive event for your community? Webinar 5 covered everything from securing test drive vehicles to connecting with EV owners in your community. It also presented the free ride and drive toolkit developed by Drive Electric Minnesota to help you plan your own events. 

Watch Video →

  • Webinar 6: Resources for Electric Vehicle Readiness: Our jam-packed webinar 6 walks you through numerous resources designed to help communities become EV ready, including sample EV ready ordinances, charging guidance, case studies, and communication tools. Additionally, hear from local utility partners and the State of Minnesota about resources available throughout the state, including incentives. 

Watch Video →


Over the course of CCA, the Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams produced many resources designed to help local governments educate their community about EVs and reasons to electrify transportation. These resources included items like a customizable slide deck with more than 100 slides of EV information to educate a variety of audiences, messaging handouts that dispel common EV myths and perceived barriers, a social media guide, content for local government websites, access to stock photos, and more. Click here to access these educational electric vehicle resources→