A major boost on the plans related to fulfilling the promise of a nationwide network of charging stations to serve drivers of Electric Vehicles (EV) was received on Feb. 10, with two federal agencies announcing almost $5 billion has been earmarked to support such infrastructure. The plan initially focus on the Interstate Highway System, directing states to build one charging station every 50 miles. Those charging stations must be capable of charging four EVs simultaneously at 150 kW.
States will be able to apply for grants to fill in gaps elsewhere, after getting the Interstate charging network completed. The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, a new agency formed to aid the Transportation and Energy departments, administers the program and will permit case-by-case exceptions to the 50-mile requirement.
The initial Interstate portion of the program will be funded through a formula that mimics how federal highway grants are distributed. Beginning in the fiscal year 2022, $615 million will be available to build charging stations, and $300 million will be allocated to set up the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Ten percent of each year’s funding will go towards filling gaps in the network.
Moreover, according to the plans submitted to Federal Government, states will need to ensure that the installed charging stations must be reliable. States are also directed to design stations so they can be easily expanded and upgraded as demand grows and charging rates increase.
States will have to install chargers that use the Combined Charging System, CCS. Most models of Evs sold in the US can use this plug except the Nissan leaf. Tesla is having its own plug type, but the company is planning to offer an adapter that will allow at least some of its North American fleet to utilize CCS fast chargers.
One field, where the new program falls short concerns how people will pay for charging. Many non-Tesla EV owners have a number of applications on their phones to provide them access to different charging networks.
“We’re taking a good look at this,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told Car and Driver. “Part of this program is going to be a shared standard. If we’re going to use taxpayers’ dollars to help private actors put in charging stations, then of course we need to make sure citizen is getting good value out of it. There may be any number of network benefits through loyalty programs. That’s fine,” he said, “but we’ve got to make sure… everybody can benefit.”