The Biden administration said Wednesday that it has approved ambitious plans in 34 states and Puerto Rico to create a nationwide electric vehicle charging network as the U.S. begins to transition in earnest from natural gas-powered transportation.
Approval of the plan means $900 million can begin flowing to states tasked with building a nationwide network of chargers using funds from President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure law . Building a reliable and accessible network is critical to fostering greater adoption of the technology, which in itself is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The announcement came the same day Biden visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to promote new laws including tax incentives for electric vehicle purchases. Practically speaking, this means that residents of some of these states could see more charging stations start popping up on major travel corridors as early as next summer. Biden’s goal is to eventually install 500,000 chargers in the U.S. and build a network of fast-charging stations along the 53,000-mile highway from coast to coast. Nico Larco, director of the Urbanism Next Center, said: “Unlocking this type of funding is a big step in getting the charging network out of the way, which we absolutely need if we’re going to fully deploy and adopt electric vehicles”. at the University of Oregon. “We don’t have the ability right now to power anywhere near the fleet that we need.” Federal officials said they will continue to review unapproved plans in this round, with the goal of approving electric vehicles in all states by Sept. 30 route map. Biden’s infrastructure law provides $5 billion over five years for electric vehicle charging networks. Funding announced Wednesday is earmarked for installing the most powerful chargers along the “alternative fuel corridor” — the major highways that connect the states — in an effort to eliminate the need for many people to buy electric cars or travel long distances “Range Anxiety” with Electric Vehicles. Under the proposed guidelines, states would be required to install at least one four-port fast-charging station every 50 miles in these corridors and ensure they are within one mile of off-ramps. Some states are exempt from the 50-mile requirement in rural areas, based on approval letters. An additional $2.5 billion in discretionary grants to fund EV charging infrastructure in economically disadvantaged communities, rural areas and urban cores. Biden’s recently passed Inflation Reduction Act includes $3 billion to stimulate adoption of electric vehicles and charging in disadvantaged communities. Federal investment is a huge windfall, but not enough on its own to meet projected demand, industry analysts say. Jessika Trancik, a professor at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, said, “It’s important to look at this funding as something that promises to kickstart more private sector funding.” She said: “ What the government can do is incentivize more private-sector money to drive the transition to electric vehicles… There may not be as much private-sector investment.” Rural states have raised serious concerns about the federal demands that accompany the money , including every 50-mile requirement. State transportation officials in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota joined last month in urging the Biden administration to ease requirements. Electric vehicles make up 0.1% of vehicle registrations in Wyoming, state Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner told federal officials now spending on the requirement to have four charging ports per 50-mile station would be ” irresponsible and illogical”. Reiner said there is enough EV adoption in Wyoming to worry that the line at the four-port station will take more than 20 years. So, Reiner said, instead of focusing only on major highway corridors, federal funding should be directed away from interstate areas that attract large numbers of tourists, such as Yellowstone National Park. “Most of our electric vehicles will be used for tourist transportation,” Lehner said on Wednesday. “The idea is that if you’re a nice lady from Iowa who owns an electric car and you want to go to Yellowstone, we want to take you there. … We want to make sure these are Sites are located in densely populated areas to have a better chance of success.” Wyoming asked to waive mileage requirements for 11 highways. Federal officials have yet to respond and the state’s plan is still pending, Reiner said. Now that the public comment period has ended, the Federal Highway Administration will review these issues and determine final guidelines. Federal officials are also considering dropping the “Buy America” clause in infrastructure deals. For example, officials in Nevada have expressed concern that they will not be able to obtain charging stations that comply with Made in America regulations and therefore cannot begin building their network. Experts who follow the evolution of electric vehicle adoption in the U.S. say it’s important to have charging stations everywhere. “It’s like the U.S. Postal Service. You need to be able to send mail anywhere, including rural areas,” said Jeremy M. Halleck, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the school’s Vehicle Electrification Group. “Even if the chargers in that rural area are not used as much on a daily basis, we still need the infrastructure to supply them. Our gas stations are used less in rural areas than in big cities, but we need them to meet demand.” Electric vehicle owners welcomed the news and said extra precautions must be taken for now if they want to drive long distances in an electric vehicle. Bob Palrud of Spokane, Washington, said the low number of chargers in some rural areas in the West meant he had to carefully plan his travel routes to avoid running out of battery. Palude travels with his wife Judy three times a year to their cottage in Sheridan, Wyoming, and twice through southeastern Montana the power gets so low that his vehicle automatically shuts down Some functions to save power. “The biggest concern for people is the range,” said Palude, a semi-retired house painter who was on Interstate 90 in Montana on Wednesday on his way back to Spokane The charging center works. “I was sitting there mentally calculating what range I was going to get.” When he went to visit family in Minnesota, Palude said he had to travel hundreds of miles to avoid northern Montana, where there are no major of interstates with few toll options. “It’s better to have more, but it’s not a deal killer,” he said. “I could chop off a few hundred miles and that would be great.”
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