The United States is one step closer to implementing a national electric vehicle (EV) charging network to enable people to “go the distance—from coast to coast.”
On Feb. 10 the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation and the White House announced nearly $5 billion in funding for states to help build out a national EV charging network along designated “alternative fuel corridors,” particularly within the interstate highway system. The funding is part of the new federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program established by the November 2021 passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
This year, $615 million in NEVI funding has been earmarked for states, and a second, competitive grant program to increase EV charging access in rural areas and underserved communities will be announced later this year. The new projects will build upon the “alternative fuel corridors” that nearly every state has designated over the past six years, which will serve as the “spine” of the new national network.
The intent is to enable people with EVs to drive across America “from coast to coast” if they want to, said secretary of energy Jennifer M. Granholm in the announcement.
“We are modernizing America’s national highway system for drivers in cities large and small, towns and rural communities, to take advantage of the benefits of driving electric,” she said.
Just as the country “ushered in the modern automotive era” a century ago, America now must lead the electric vehicle “revolution,” said secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“The president’s bipartisan infrastructure law will help us win the EV race by working with states, labor and the private sector to deploy a historic nationwide charging network that will make EV charging accessible for more Americans,” Buttigieg said.
NECA’s CEO, David Long, praised the funding announcement that will “kickstart” the national network. “The projects that result from these funds will be crucial to revitalizing our nation’s infrastructure, and will provide opportunities for NECA’s highly skilled and qualified electrical contractors and their field workforce to be essential stakeholders in the growth of the EV market,” he said.
States wanting access to the federal funds must first submit an EV infrastructure deployment plan to the new Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, detailing how the state would use the money in accordance with Federal Highway Administration (FHA) guidance. The Joint Office is providing technical assistance and support on its newly launched website, DriveElectric.gov, to help states develop their plans before they are reviewed and approved by the FHA, which administers the funding.
The Joint Office is a collaborative effort of the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation, and part of the Biden administration’s EV Charging Action Plan that outlines steps for federal agencies to support the expansion of the nation’s EV charging network. The plan builds on $7.5 billion in funding authorized by the infrastructure law for states and local communities to build out a national charging network.
One of the primary goals of the administration’s efforts is to provide sufficient access to charging technology to underserved communities in remote and rural areas. It also aims to provide a more uniform approach to the development of plug types, payment options, data availability and hardware to increase convenience for consumers and confidence for industry stakeholders.
All of this is to support President Biden’s ambitious target set last year by executive order for half of all new vehicles sold in the United States in the year 2030 to be zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.