WASHINGTON—The Federal Highway Administration has approved electric-vehicle charging infrastructure plans submitted by 35 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the agency said.
“Thanks to the commitment of state leaders who worked hard to develop EV charging networks that work for their residents, we were able to approve these state charging plans quickly and ahead of schedule,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack in a statement. “We are reviewing the remaining plans and on track to finish the process by our target date of September 30, if not sooner. Our shared work to bring President Biden’s vision for a national electric vehicle network to communities across America is too important to wait.”
These states will begin to have access to the $900 million for building EV chargers that was approved through the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed last November. In February, the Biden Administration released an EV charging infrastructure plan that said states must install an EV charger every 50 miles and must be located no more than one mile off of high-use corridors, mostly interstates.
The chargers must have at least 600 kilowatts of total capacity, with ports for at least four cars that can simultaneously deliver at least 150 kilowatts each. The chargers also need to be accessible to the general public or to fleet operators from more than one company.
President Biden has a goal of ultimately installing 500,000 EV chargers in the U.S. and building a network of fast-charging stations across 53,000 miles of freeways from coast to coast, reports the Associated Press.
However, some states in the Western U.S. argue the EV charging infrastructure plan doesn’t make sense for extreme rural areas. The states say it would be nearly impossible and at best difficult to run a series of chargers along desolate stretches of highway.
Rest stops are not an option for EV chargers, as Congress prohibited commercial activity at these locations years ago so that private businesses have a level playing field with public entities. NACS, among other industries, pushed against fast chargers at rest stops during last year’s infrastructure bill debates because they would stifle private investment in EV charging.
“You can’t really have businesses develop at exits if you have them at rest stops,” Doug Kantor, NACS general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal in a recent article.
According to approval letters, some states did receive an exemption from the 50-mile guideline.
“It’s important to see this funding as something that will hopefully kickstart further private sector funding,” Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, told AP.
“What government can do is incentivize further private sector funding and push forward this shift towards electric vehicles ... where there might not be as much private sector investment,” she said.
NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to incentivize the nation’s existing refueling locations to incorporate EV charging into their suite of fueling options as the federal government implements its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula grant program.
NACS believes that if federal investments are made without any effort to drive necessary policy and market reforms, or with unnecessary strings attached, the NEVI grant program will result in charging stations being placed in undesirable locations, limiting consumer interest in purchasing EVs and minimizing private companies' desire to invest in charging stations.
NACS is a founding member of the Charge Ahead Partnership, a coalition of businesses, associations and individuals who share the same goal of creating a competitive EV charging market nationwide. The Charge Ahead Partnership is free to join. By joining, members will be kept informed about this issue and will learn how they can help the cause.
The NACS EV Charging Calculator allows retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.
The Fuels Institute is headlining two EV-related education sessions at the 2022 NACS Show, October 1-4 in Las Vegas. These include: EV Economics: Fact vs. Fiction and Reality of EV Transitions. Register today to attend the NACS Show.