US Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Plans Begin Inching Forward

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Posted on EVANNEX on December 22, 2021, by Charles Morris

When President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into law in November, EV drivers and fans delivered a well-earned round of applause. However, until now the details were so vague that we didn’t really know what we were cheering for. Now the administration has released an EV Charging Action Plan to outline the steps federal agencies will take to implement the new policy.

The DOE and DOT will establish a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which will collect input and guidance from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers and other stakeholders. The initial focus will be on “building a convenient, reliable public charging network…with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations.”

The administration has set a goal of deploying 500,000 chargers. According to DOE data, the US currently has around 43,000 public charging stations and 120,000 charging ports, mostly Level 2 chargers.

At this stage, there’s still a lot about the plan that’s unclear. The names and acronyms associated with the various programs to be established seem to be in flux, and terms such as “network” and “equity” are being tossed around with no precise definitions given. Based on the administration’s announcements, the following is what we understand to be the deal.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill establishes two separate programs, and two separate pots of money, to promote the deployment of EV charging infrastructure.

The National Electric Vehicle Formula Program will provide $5 billion in “formula funding” for states to use “to build a national charging network.”

The Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grant program will provide $2.5 billion for “communities and corridors” through a competitive grant program to “ensure that charger deployment meets administration priorities such as supporting rural charging, improving local air quality and increasing EV charging access in disadvantaged communities.” According to the Federal Highway Administration, these grants can also be used for hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling stations.

In addition to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, the DOT and DOE will launch a new Advisory Committee on Electric Vehicles, and plans to appoint members to this committee by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Interested stakeholders can submit suggestions or comments through the DOT’s Charging Request for Information.

The administration is already developing the standards described in the bill. No later than February 11, the DOT will publish guidance for states and cities to “strategically deploy EV charging stations to build out a national network along our nation’s highway system.” No later than May 13, DOT will publish standards for EV chargers in the national network to ensure functionality, safety and accessibility. (Will Tesla Superchargers be eligible for some of the funding? Stay tuned.)

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