Sunday, December 4, 2022

Biden Opens Access To $5 Billion To Build National EV Charging Network

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US President Joe Biden talks about manufacturing chargers for electric vehicles on Feb. 8, 2022.

AFP via Getty Images

The Biden Administration is opening up access to at least $5 billion in new federal funds for states to apply for as part of an aggressive strategy to build a coast-to-coast network of 500,000 high-volume, rapid chargers to encourage more Americans to buy electric vehicles.  

Funding for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, or NEVI, program was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and an initial $615 million is available for all 5o states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia this year. Based on the formula laid out by the program, Texas could initially receive the most funds of any state, about $60.4 million, followed by California, which could qualify for about $56.8 million in 2022. The Transportation Department didn’t immediately clarify why Texas may be the top recipient even though its EV market is a fraction of the size of California’s. 

The focus will be on building 150-kilowatt, DC fast chargers primarily on “alternative fuel” highway corridors. To receive funds this year states need to submit detailed plans to federal officials overseeing the program at the Transportation and Energy Departments. An additional $2.5 billion may also become available that could be used to build EV charging stations in urban areas, particularly in lower income districts, as well as hydrogen fueling stations, according to senior administration officials. 

 “A century ago, America ushered in the modern automotive era; now America must lead the electric vehicle revolution,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “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.”

The program aligns with a push by the Biden Administration to rapidly scale up the U.S. electric vehicle industry to both curb climate-warming emissions and create more domestic manufacturing jobs. While Tesla has dominated the EV market so far, and is expanding its U.S. production capacity, competitors including General Motors, Ford, Stellantis and automotive startups such as Rivian and Lucid are all working to rapidly boost output of electric cars, pickups and SUVs and U.S. plants. Access to EV charging has been improving in U.S. cities, but the federal program to speed construction of charging stations along highways is aimed at help more Americans, including those in rural areas, consider switching from gasoline power to electricity. 

“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,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. 

Texas may receive the largest portion of funds this year based on its share of federal highway funds, which appear to be the largest in 2022, according to the Transportation Department. Funds from the NEVI program are distributed on a statutory basis aligning with Federal Highway Administration programs, not a discretionary basis reflecting market conditions in individual states.

Initial funds will likely be distributed in the second half of 2022, after applications are reviewed. The government expects most of the states applying for federal funds will outline plans that focus on working with companies that are already operate their own networks of charging stations.

This week Biden also promoted a new manufacturing effort by Australia’s Tritium to make EV chargers in Tennessee and met with utility company executives to build support for his stalled Build Back Better legislation.

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