States get final go-ahead to build roadside EV charging network

WASHINGTON — Attention potential car buyers: New charging stations for electric vehicles are on the way to freeway locations near you.

All 50 states received final approval Tuesday to begin construction of a nation’s first network of electric vehicle charging stations that places one roughly every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along interstate highways, part of the administration’s plan. Biden to push for the widespread adoption of zero-emission cars.

The Department of Transportation said it had approved electric vehicle charger plans for a final batch of 17 states, triggering the release of $1.5 billion in federal funding for all jurisdictions across the country, or $5 billion over five years. to install or upgrade chargers over 75,000 miles (75,000 miles). 120,000 kilometers) of highway from coast to coast, with a goal of 500,000 EV chargers nationwide. Plans for the other 33 states and the District of Columbia were approved earlier this month.

By the end of the year, drivers could begin to see expansions and upgrades to existing roadside EV stations in states like California, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania, which now have at least four fast-charging ports, allowing that electric vehicles are fully recharged in about an hour.

Construction of new electric vehicle charging locations could begin next spring.

“The United States led the original automotive revolution in the last century and … we are poised to lead the 21st century with electric vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He said the plans “will help ensure that Americans in all parts of the country, from the largest cities to the most rural communities, can be positioned to unlock the savings and benefits of electric vehicles.”

The approval is an important step toward building widespread acceptance and use of electric vehicles among consumers, who often express misgivings about the shorter range of electric vehicles and the limited availability of public chargers. President Joe Biden has set a goal of 50% of new US car sales being electric by 2030, and his administration is touting new tax credits next year of up to $7,500 to make electric vehicles accessible to ordinary Americans. Still, the five-year plans suggest a potentially long and bumpy road for a network of electric vehicles on the roads, with states citing risks such as a lack of power grid capacity, supply chain shortages and fairness concerns.

For example, while Texas, California and Florida say their grid should be able to handle a larger capacity of a million or more electric vehicles, other states aren’t so sure.

“Capacity will become a concern in the coming years as charging infrastructure and electric vehicles become more ubiquitous,” New Mexico said in its plan.

Vermont wrote that “unmanaged or unplanned EV charging could cause utilities to incur significant costs in maintaining grid reliability and create challenges for grid operators” and that some locations “may also need intensive improvements and construction of the network”.

Mississippi cited a possible shortage of electric vehicle charging station equipment, which it said “can cause significant setbacks” in construction. Several states also expressed concern that they would not be able to acquire charging stations that comply with the provisions made in the United States.

“It may delay implementation for several years,” New Jersey officials wrote.

Under Department of Transportation requirements, states must also focus first on the most expensive fast chargers on highway routes that typically cost between $40,000 and $100,000 to install, rather than targeting neighborhoods and communities with Tier 2 chargers that they are cheaper but take a few hours to provide. a full load

Currently, EV owners charge their vehicles at home 80% of the time, typically in single-family homes. But that is likely to change as less wealthy people who don’t have a garage to house a charging station buy electric vehicles.

Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill provides an additional $2.5 billion for local grants to fill remaining gaps in the charging network in rural areas and in disadvantaged communities, which are less likely to own higher-priced electric vehicles or have available charging stations. close to them. The Federal Highway Administration said Tuesday that it will begin accepting applications for that money later this year.

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