What State Officials Should Consider

In a recent article, I detailed the requirements the federal government places on states for the next build of electric vehicle infrastructure. This is a great plan and will go a long way in bringing electric vehicle charging infrastructure closer to where it needs to be. However, as I have pointed out in this article, there are some shortcomings. Luckily, a lot of the planning is up to the states, so there’s still plenty of opportunity to get that fucking near-perfect! So I’m writing a short guide for state transportation and energy officials to consider when writing their plans for building electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The key is to go beyond.

The hands of state officials are tied, but not much

Before I get into what state officials should do to go beyond that, I want to talk about the limits the federal government has placed on the funds. Before they can choose where they want for stations, they must at least meet these requirements on interstate highways:

  • Gaps of no more than 50 miles between chargers and chargers within one mile of the highway
  • At least four chargers of 150 kW or more, with CCS connectors
  • Ability to simultaneously charge four vehicles at this rate or more
  • Exceptions are available for each of them on a case-by-case basis (unavailability of electricity, etc.)

The good news? Almost any EV driver would agree that these requirements are a good minimum. That doesn’t preclude building a great EV charging network in your state. So even if your hands are tied, these requirements won’t cause problems unless you see them as a finish line and not a starting point that you should go past.

First, check out my old plan

Last year, I wrote a plan for federal public servants. Much of this, including the map of charging station locations I developed in every state and most US territories, still applies. I would suggest starting there and determining which elements of this plan apply to your state and situation. I came up with rough sites, and you’ll need to add your local knowledge to make it better.

The map is embedded below, but you can check out a larger full-screen view here.

First, go beyond on the highways

Thanks to Dieselgate funds and Electrify America, many states that haven’t invested much money or effort in building charging infrastructure are already close to meeting the federal government’s minimum requirements. If this is your state, I recommend that you don’t be fooled into thinking that your state doesn’t need a lot of interstate infrastructure. If only 10% of the vehicles on the road became electric vehicles, having 4 locations every 50 miles would be hopelessly and hilariously insufficient. The thing is, like the guy from Alone at home said, “You’re going to have to do better than that!”

If you already have stations every 50 miles, put more at exits between towns and villages. Put some at the bottom of big climbs and at rest areas. Then put in more stalls where possible. Or, at least have things pre-wired to add more stalls without too much trouble in the future. There’s probably no way to prepare your state for 50% EV adoption with what you’ll get from the federal government, but you need to give it the best possible start.

You also shouldn’t be too quick to ask for exceptions when there’s a tough rural stretch. For example, it would be difficult to put stations along I-70 in Utah because there are no towns for the most part. Keep in mind that federal guidelines allow spending on power generation and battery storage where it would help build stations. Set up a solar farm in tough rural areas to get at least a few stalls. Going beyond like this will make EV drivers much more confident.

Second, consider treating US highways the same way USDOT treats highways

If there’s a place for DOT minimums, it’s probably on US highways instead of interstate highways. US highways serve many small towns and rural areas, and they often have lower speed limits and traffic figures than interstate highways. On these roads you should have at least 4 pits every 50 miles. This helps ensure that most or all of your state has equitable access to the electric vehicle charging network.

Includes level 2 and mid-speed EV charging at destinations

Once you’ve taken care of long-distance travel, don’t continue to install the biggest stations and deplete your annual funds too quickly. Many EV drivers in cities and in rural areas where they will be spending a lot of time will not benefit from the highest charging speeds. Instead, consider getting funds to build more Tier 2 (280-240 volts) and DC fast-charging stations that produce 50-75 kW. Grocery stores, carpool lots at airports, tourist attractions, and hotels are all great places for a slower charge and allow you to get more bang for your buck and allow you to go beyond.

Data is important, signs are not

Don’t waste money installing more than small electric vehicle charging signs at highway exits. The thing is, EV drivers can’t rely on the signs to get around and won’t be able to do so for a long time. They have to use apps and infotainment systems to plan trips, so that’s where the real action is.

It’s a good idea to work with electric vehicle charging providers and make sure they’re integrated with trip planning software and vehicle infotainment systems. This way, drivers can see in advance that a station is full and decide to charge at another nearby station that has additional stations open. If your stations can’t do this, you’ll have a bunch of unused extra stalls in some places and long queues in others when this was entirely avoidable.

Contact us at Clean Technica!

We have a number of very knowledgeable EV drivers and other experts here. Be sure to contact us if you need help developing your state plan for electric vehicle charging stations. We also have enthusiastic readers in your state. We’d love to help get your state on the right track and make sure you come up with a top-notch plan that keeps your state on the map!

Featured Image: A screenshot of my map of possible EV charging station sites.


 

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