Winona looks to add EV chargers

Photo by Cesar Salazar


Dahl Vice President Jansen Dahl plugs in an EV at Dahl’s fast EV charger in Winona.



The city of Winona has seen a push to begin taking electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure more seriously, as many other cities across Minnesota and the nation are, too. City staff wants to be proactive, and the city recently joined a program — EV Smart Cities — to help with the rollout of EV infrastructure across Winona in the future.

The adoption of EV infrastructure is part of the city’s new goals under its draft Comprehensive Plan as well as its draft Sustainability Plan. City officials and Comprehensive Plan committee members believe with the adoption of more and more EVs, Winona could be able to attract visitors to the city looking to charge their vehicles. Currently, the city of Winona has about five different EV charging locations.

The EV Smart Cities program, offered by the Great Plains Institute in Minneapolis, Minn., helps cities take on the adoption of EV infrastructure by laying out plans, helping to educate the public, and securing funding sources for the development of cities’ EV projects. City of Winona Natural Resources Sustainability Coordinator John Howard said the program will help the city to determine what and where EV charging would be needed, as well as take advantage of EV infrastructure grants on the horizon.

There are three types — or levels — of EV charging available to EV owners: level one chargers, which are typically EVs being charged at home at a slow rate overnight; level two chargers, which are usually found in public areas so EVs get charged while the owners are out and about for a few hours; and level three chargers, which are more expensive to use, but provide the fastest charging for EVs, with some being able to charge in under 30 minutes. Most chargers are universal, but typically car manufacturers provide adapters in case a plug doesn’t fit.

Most of the city’s EV charging stations are level two chargers. There are at least two fast-charging EV stations in Winona, owned by Winona State University (WSU) and Dahl Automotive.

WSU features five charging stations available for public use: four level two chargers at Kryzsko Lot 32 and one fast charger in Gold Main Lot 1, per WSU’s website. WSU’s website also mentions that users can access the chargers through the ZEFNET Charge app, and WSU students can charge for free. However, all other users are charged a $1-2 flat connection fee, and $0.12 per kilowatt hour. For more information on WSU’s EV charging, users can visit

Dahl Automotive recently announced it is accelerating its EV infrastructure investments throughout its dealerships, including its Winona dealerships. Dahl Auto Vice President Jansen Dahl said in an interview that with automakers across the world shifting production focus to EVs, Dahl wants to ensure that they can meet customer expectations for EV infrastructure and service in the future.

Dahl dealerships in Winona offer four EV charging stations to the public, with one being a fast charger. Dahl Toyota recently installed two level two chargers, Jansen added. Jansen said that EV chargers at Dahl locations will be free to use for the public through the end of April, after which the dealerships would then charge market rates for charging EVs.

Bluff Country Co-op was actually one of the first Winona entities to adopt public EV infrastructure, installing a level two charger in its parking lot in 2018. Bluff Country Co-op General Manager Krissy Rowland said that as a way to show the grocery store's commitment to sustainability, the charger is completely free to use for the public, but a $2 per hour donation would be much appreciated. She added that donations to the station have covered the costs of running the charger.

Sugar Loaf Ford wasn’t immediately available for comment on their EV infrastructure, but an employee said that the charger at their site is a fast charging type.

According to the app PlugShare, the region surrounding the city features more chargers available, including at MiEnergy Cooperative in Rushford, Suncrest Gardens Pizza Farm in Cochrane, and Big River Resort in Wabasha.

Howard said the city is somewhat behind the curve in terms of having EV infrastructure. He said that he frequently gets calls from Visit Winona regarding visitors asking about the availability of EV chargers within the city.

Howard said some sites where the city could consider adding charging stations include the Visit Winona Welcome Center on Huff Street, Lake Park, and downtown to attract visitors. Howard added that the city will also have to take into consideration city zoning ordinances before installing chargers, which could affect where the city can place them.

Despite the number of EV charging stations in Winona, Howard said the city doesn’t have any specific goals in place for installing EV infrastructure, but he would like the city to determine how much charging is needed for EVs in the city.

City Council member Steve Young said during the February 21 City Council meeting that he doesn’t believe it’s in the government’s best interest to promote EV infrastructure, arguing it is more cost-effective to let private companies do the work. “I’ll support this, but I want the public to see what’s going on,” Young said of applying for the program. “This market intervention is going to cost us, in my opinion … dearly, and I’m concerned about it.”

City Council member Jeff Hyma replied to Young’s point that the government's success in areas like this typically isn’t cited as much compared to failures, and EV infrastructure adoption might be a case of success. “I don’t know where this one is going to land, and I don’t know enough about it,” Hyma said. “But I guess I start from a different point of view. I don’t start [with] skepticism; I start from optimism.”

City Council members Jerome Christenson and Aaron Repinski added that they believe EV charging will be important and that the city should be proactive in adopting EV infrastructure.