Burgum gives EV plan the cold shoulder

May 2, 2024 | by magnews24.com

A Charge Point electric vehicle charging station sits ready for use in Bismarck on Feb. 19, 2024. (Michael Achterling/North Dakota Monitor)

Gov. Doug Burgum bashed the idea of electric vehicles in North Dakota as the state Industrial Commission passed, at least for now, on funding a regional plan for EVs. 

“We know that electric vehicles and cold temperatures just don’t mix,” said Burgum, one of three members of the commission. 

The commission was asked to provide $375,000 for the Regional Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Resiliency Plan. The money would come from the Renewable Energy Fund. 

Gov. Doug Burgum (Provided by Office of the Governor)

The request was made by the Energy and Environmental Resource Center at the University of North Dakota. It is working with groups in other states and utility companies. 

It would be a four-state plan led by North Dakota and also includes Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota. 

The plan is to address the unique needs and challenges to developing reliable EV infrastructure in the region. 

The commission on Tuesday asked for more information on the regional study, deferring the item to next month’s meeting. In particular, it asked for more information on how much money the other states are contributing to the plan. 

The plan has an overall price tag of $1.875 million, funded in part by the federal Department of Energy and Department of Transportation. 

Burgum said his interactions with the federal agencies show that they do not understand the limitations of electric vehicles in a cold climate. 

He said federal incentives are artificially inflating the demand for EVs when, at the same time, federal policies are making it harder for baseload power providers like North Dakota’s coal-fired power plants to provide affordable energy. 

He predicted brownouts and blackouts in the coming years. 

“If this report is going to highlight all the problems associated with the current plan, then I’d be interested in funding it,” Burgum said. 

He also was critical of Minnesota, which last year approved a carbon-free energy standard requiring Minnesota utility providers to transition to 100% carbon-free electricity sources by 2040, including sources from across state lines. The Industrial Commission is planning to submit comments to Minnesota regulators regarding the implementation of the new rule. Commissioners also are weighing a potential court challenge over Minnesota’s regulation.

Over half of the electricity generated in North Dakota goes to out-of-state customers, and most of that supply goes to Minnesota, the North Dakota Lignite Energy Council has said.

“They don’t want some of our electrons,” after 2040, Burgum said. “That’s the ongoing battle.” 

The North Dakota Department of Transportation does have its own EV infrastructure program, receiving almost $26 million in federal funds. The program includes a networking database and a virtual networking event on May 16. 

Enhanced oil recovery

The commission also approved a permit for XTO Energy to test using different techniques for enhanced oil recovery at a group of wells along the Little Missouri River. Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms noted that the parent company of XTO is ExxonMobil, and it was exciting to see a large oil and gas company experimenting with enhanced oil recovery in the Bakken.

Helms has said developing enhanced oil recovery is critical to extending the life of North Dakota’s oil fields. 

“This is a really important project to move this forward,” Helms said. “We have three projects running right now that are testing three different technologies. This will bring a fourth technology innovation to the table by a company the scale of ExxonMobil.”  

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