On Wednesday, April 17, a group of Minnesota local governments became the first communities to achieve Charging Smart designation, a public recognition of their status as electric vehicle-friendly communities. Charging Smart is a national program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that works to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) across the country. Nine local governments from across Minnesota—from rural communities to metropolitan Minneapolis—earned Bronze and Silver designations in recognition of their work to accelerate the equitable expansion of EVs and EV charging infrastructure. 

“We are so proud that Minnesota cities are the first in the nation to earn this much-deserved recognition. We worked closely with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to develop Charging Smart, and designation through the program means a community has taken critically important steps to accelerate EV readiness,” said Lola Schoenrich, Vice President, Communities at the Great Plains Institute (GPI).

On Wednesday, two communities—Hopkins and La Crescent, Minnesota—received Charging Smart Silver designations. An additional seven communities received Charging Smart Bronze designation: Eden Prairie, Falcon Heights, Faribault, Inver Grove Heights, Oakdale, Roseville, and St. James, Minnesota.

Charging Smart offers free technical assistance to help municipalities set and achieve policies that align with nationally recognized best practices to advance EV adoption. By helping local governments streamline and improve their policies, Charging Smart aims to reduce EV charger costs and increase the number of EVs in the community. In addition, the program emphasizes the importance of equity, leading to concrete benefits in EV access for all jurisdiction residents. Learn more and join the program at ChargingSmart.org. 

The program launched earlier this year in a pilot phase. It currently operates in Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia, along with the regions of North Texas, Northern Illinois, and Southern California. Charging Smart plans to expand the program’s geographic reach beginning this summer. 

Charging Smart is led by IREC, with GPI serving as lead partner on the project. GPI worked closely with the seven Minnesota communities to earn designation on Wednesday. 

“We are thrilled to welcome our first group of Charging Smart designees just a few months after the program’s launch,” said Ed Gilliland, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives at IREC. “This group of communities demonstrates both the significant impact that local governments can have on EV adoption, and underscores the potential of this program as we prepare to expand it nationally.” 

Full details on the Charging Smart program, along with information on how eligible communities can participate, are available at ChargingSmart.org.

Media Contact: Zack Loehle, Communications Manager, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), [email protected], (470) 615-9817.

Media Contact: Drew Henry, Communications Director, Great Plains Institute (GPI), [email protected], (612) 429-1222


About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for over 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook

About GPI: A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) accelerates the transition to net-zero carbon emissions for the benefit of people, the economy, and the environment. Working across the US, we combine a unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge, research and analysis, and local action to find and implement lasting solutions. Learn more at www.betterenergy.org.