Tennessee Plans EV Fast-Charging Network

Two groups will add about 50 charging stations every 50 miles along major highways and interstates.

February 05, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) have partnered to bring a fast-charging network to the state, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The new network would put about an additional 50 EV charging stations every 50 miles along Tennessee interstates and major highways.

The chargers should be in place next year, with the sites to be determined. In a FAQ, TDEC said, “Ideal charging sites will be located near prioritized corridor infrastructure gaps and will provide safe and efficient recharging for EV owners. Where possible, these sites will be located near amenities such as retail shopping centers or dining establishments. TVA is currently partnering with a group of LPCs [local power companies] to design a charging station experience that will appeal to customers.”

NACS believes that EV charging should be an open, competitive market. Convenience and fuel retailers should have the option to sell any legal source of transportation energy in a competitive market with a level playing field. Allowing the private sector to compete is the best way to spur investment in and the development of electric charging infrastructure. It is also the best way to ensure that vehicle owners get the best prices over the long term.

TDEC will spend $5 million on the project, with TVA and other partners, including those hosting the charging stations, providing the other $15 million. TDEC said it has committed the maximum allowable percentage (15%) of the state’s Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation to fund EV charging infrastructure.

Currently, the state only has 24 fast-charging sites. TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash indicated each new station might have up to four chargers.

“This will give (electric vehicle) travelers the confidence to travel all the way from the mountains of Tennessee to the banks of [the] Mississippi without being far from a charger,” Lyash said.

Fast charging generally takes half an hour to bring a nearly empty battery to 80% capacity. TVA will be considering charging times when planning the stations to ensure security and amenities like convenience stores.

“This investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is a monumental step forward, and I’m proud that Tennessee is leading in this important effort,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “With TVA’s partnership, we will be able to continue our work to protect our environment and improve our transportation infrastructure.”

Last week, General Motors announced it would only produce electric vehicles by 2040, phasing out gasoline-powered cars and trucks. President Biden has made EVs a top part of his climate agenda.

With more than 122,000 fueling locations, the convenience industry is the best way to fulfill the energy needs of future drivers—regardless of the energy source. All industries, whether it be a gas station, utility, technology company or other type of business, should have the same access to incentive and investment opportunities to provide consumers the widest range of choices in fueling their vehicles.

To promote the availability of EV chargers at convenience stores, in 2020 NACS launched the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program. Through this program, NACS has established relationships with organizations interested in supporting the installation of electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) at convenience stores. These organizations range from those seeking to install and operate their own equipment at NACS member locations to those seeking to finance the installation or provide technical assistance to facilitate the installation of such equipment or future proofing stores.

If you are interested in learning more about this program and benefiting from these relationships when opportunities in your market are available, please contact NACS Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Liaison Karl Doenges at kdoenges@convenience.org.