States ‘off to the races’ on EV charging infrastructure, says Energy official

WASHINGTON — As the federal government moves forward with a plan to build a nationwide charging network for electric vehicles, it’s “off to the races” for states looking to soothe consumer range anxiety.

“This is not going to be the federal government going and buying chargers and putting them in the ground,” Michael Berube, a senior official at the U.S. Energy Department, said of the strategy to build 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030 with funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure law.

Instead, states will take charge.

“Any place where you can put a public charger along the highway corridors is fair game, so that will be operated by the states,” said Berube, who is deputy assistant secretary for sustainable transportation in the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The law — signed by President Joe Biden in November — includes $7.5 billion to help build out the charging network and $65 billion for upgrades to the nation’s electric grid. Of the $7.5 billion, the law provides $5 billion for states to build out a charging network and $2.5 billion for local grants to support access to EV charging in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

States have until Aug. 1 to submit EV infrastructure deployment plans to the newly created Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which will approve those plans by Sept. 30 and start to distribute funds thereafter. The joint office also is assisting with the planning and implementation of a national EV charging network, including distributing funds to states.

“The key message here is: a lot of federal dollars, but a lot of partnership with the private sector,” Berube said.

This month, the Federal Highway Administration issued a rule that would set minimum standards and requirements for the federally funded charging stations.

The standards will help ensure that a national EV charging network is accessible, user-friendly and interoperable among different charging companies and across a broad range of vehicles, the Biden administration said.

As automakers aim to electrify more, or all, of their new-vehicle lineups, Berube said 500,000 EV charging stations and $7.5 billion is only the beginning.

“We’re going to be continuing to build out charging and fueling for the next 30 years.”

Leave a Comment