ElectriFUNcation & Test Drive Event Electrifies Elk River with Clean Energy Enthusiasm

ElectriFUNcation & Test Drive Event Electrifies Elk River with Clean Energy Enthusiasm Main Photo

22 Aug 2023


The Elk River community experienced excitement on August 5th as the city's Furniture and Things Community Event Center hosted the Elk River ElectriFUNcation & Test Drive Event. Organized by Recharge MN, the localarm of the nonprofit Recharge America, and supported and funded by the Elk River Economic Development Authority and the Initiative Foundation, the event aimed to enlighten residents about the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) and showcase Elk River's commitment to clean energy. Amidst the buzz of curiosity and enthusiasm, attendees explored the world of EVs, learned about clean energy career prospects, and got hands-on with charging stations. Debbi Rydberg, Executive Director of Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “I think it's a great way to gauge people's interest and explore the clean energy arena. Whether it was electric cars, careers, or even recycling, this event gave people a great opportunity to understand the nitty-gritty of EV technology.”

Charging Towards Clean Energy: The Event's Highlights

The event offered an array of engaging activities for attendees of all ages. The main attraction was the chance to take EVs out for a spin on the streets of Elk River. For every test drive or test ride, a donation was made to one of the local charity partners, making each drive an educational experience and a way to give back to the community. The event saw participation by around 250 attendees, with a total of 75 test drives being undertaken. 

Inside Cornerstone Arena, attendees had the opportunity to delve into the world of clean energy career training and economic opportunities. This section of the event shed light on the ever-growing job market in clean energy, emphasizing how Elk River residents could be part of the movement toward a more sustainable future.

But the event wasn't all about theory and career prospects. Participants also got their hands dirty, learning how to use charging stations for EVs. With the rising popularity of electric vehicles, knowing how to use charging infrastructure effectively is becoming increasingly important for individuals considering switching to cleaner transportation options. Debbi Rydberg added, “Even if you do drive an EV car, there must be places to charge your car, either in the public arena or by supporting private businesses. Regarding the infrastructure, we could start thinking of a possible electric power grid being set up. It doesn't all have to be about public investment; the policy side is just as important.”

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was a key guest at the event, who discussed a game-changing initiative. The department revealed plans to allocate $68 million in federal funds to install charging stations along the I-94 and I-35 corridors. This ambitious endeavor is set to make long-distance travel with EVs significantly more convenient, promoting the adoption of clean energy vehicles on a larger scale.

A Step Towards a Cleaner Future

The Elk River ElectriFUNcation & Test Drive Event served as a platform to showcase the benefits of EVs and Elk River's commitment to becoming a clean energy hub. The city is paving the way for more sustainable transportation options and contributing to a cleaner environment by hosting such events.

As EVs continue to gain momentum as a viable alternative to traditional gas-powered vehicles, events like these become crucial for educating communities about their advantages and dispelling misconceptions. The event in Elk River demonstrated how EVs are eco-friendly and can align with local initiatives, economic growth, and community development.

The ElectriFUNcation & Test Drive Event was a dynamic and educational experience for Elk River residents. From test-driving EVs to understanding clean energy career paths and learning about charging infrastructure expansion, attendees were immersed in electric mobility. With the support of local organizations like Recharge MN and the Elk River Economic Development Authority, Elk River is undoubtedly making strides toward becoming a cleaner and more sustainable community.

Stakeholders involved in planning the event:

  • Recharge MN         
  • City of Elk River
  • Elk River Municipal Utilities
  • ISD 728
  • Sherburne County
  • Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Elk River Energy City Commission
  • Xcel Energy
  • Connexus Energy
  • Initiative Foundation


  • Xcel Energy – solar project
  • Connexus Energy – solar project and honeybees
  • Anoka Technical College – automotive program
  • Elk River Fire Department
  • Elk River Rotary Club – battery recycling
  • Transportation Center of Excellence
  • Cornerstone Auto – careers
  • Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services – careers
  • Great Plains Institute

Organizations receiving charitable donations:
With $50/test drive donated to each charitable group, the maximum donation of $2,500 was made to each: Three Rivers Foundation, Salk Middle School STEM program, and Elk River High School automotive program.