Q: Who pays the utility bill for cars to plug in and recharge?
A: Dan Thiede, communications director for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, not only answered the specific question, he also provided a list of places in Mankato-North Mankato where people can charge an electric vehicle.
There are a lot more local charging stations than Ask Us Guy realized, and the question of who pays for the electricity varies from location to location, according to Thiede. First off, most electric vehicles get most of their juice at the home of their owner.
“Eighty percent of electric vehicle charging in Minnesota happens at home overnight,” he said. “In that case, the homeowner pays for the electricity on their utility bill.”
As for public charging spaces, some businesses offer free juice, apparently to attract customers.
“When staying overnight at a hotel, many now offer EV charging for guests, which is true of Courtyard and AmericanInn in Mankato and even the Land of Memories Campground,” Thiede said. “In these cases, the business picks up the tab for their customers. Other businesses in Mankato with free charging include Goodwill, PrairieCare, and the Nissan, Ford, Volkwagen, and Chevrolet dealerships.”
Elsewhere, the charging stations charge the vehicle and the owner — filling the battery for the former, submitting a fee for the latter.
Those fee-based charging stations are at Minnesota State University, the Mankato Area Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, and MGM Wine & Spirits in North Mankato, according to Thiede.
“So the short answer is, it depends,” Thiede said.
More information about EV charging can be found at https://www.driveelectricmn.org/charging/ and a map of charging stations locally, nationally and across the world can be found at https://www.plugshare.com/.
“… EV charging infrastructure is in place and growing rapidly, especially on major corridors,” Thiede said.
Ask Us Guy noticed that while on vacation a week ago. Not an EV owner himself, Ask Us Guy stopped at Tobies in Hinckley for an energy boost via one of the restaurant’s very large cinnamon rolls. But in the parking lot, there were eight fee-based charging stations and most of them were in use.
Q: Why isn’t the civic center arena in compliance with ADA requirements for handrails on stairs? The only exemption I can find is that “assembly area access” stairs can use a single handrail in the center rather than rails on both sides. As I’ve reached my “golden years,” I’m finding descending those stairs to be a bit challenging with nothing to hold on to.
A: Ironically, the explanation involves a “grandfather” clause.
When construction began on the civic center in 1994, designs followed the 1988 Uniform Building Code with Minnesota amendments that took effect on July 16, 1990, according to Mankato City Manager Susan Arntz.
“The handrails were not required at the time civic center was built, therefore would not be subject to the standard in the most recent building code publication,” Arntz said.
This question and others wondering about the lack of railings at places like Franklin Rogers Park and Vetter Stone Amphitheater have been a staple of Ask Us for many years. As long ago as 2014, former City Manager Pat Hentges was giving the same answer as his successor gives in 2021 — the civic center was constructed at a time when railings weren’t mandatory on the aisles, and facilities from that era were grandfathered in when more stringent standards were enacted later.
Hentges also noted that, while some people like handrails, others see them as an unnecessary obstacle blocking the sightlines of the ice or the stage.
Nonetheless, Hentges said he could sympathize with the folks seeking more handrails and conceded that he was becoming more unbalanced as he grew older (Ask Us Guy is paraphrasing; Hentges may not have worded it exactly that way.) So, the city during Hentges’ reign added railings at Vetter Stone and at the MoonDogs park and had a line-item in the Community Investment Plan to bring more railings to the civic center.
“However, with COVID-19 and the effects that the pandemic had on the civic center operation, funds were allocated elsewhere,” Arntz said. “City staff are working on reprioritizing the handrail project into the upcoming five-year CIP.”
Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, 418 S. Second St., Mankato, MN 56001. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org; put Ask Us in the subject line.