States with plans now approved can gain access to more than $900 million in funding in 2022-23 to build EV chargers across roughly 53,000 miles of U.S. highway, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
"With the first set of approvals we are announcing today, 35 states across the country — with Democratic and Republican governors — will be moving forward to use these funds to install EV chargers at regular, reliable intervals along their highways," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
States had until Aug. 1 to submit EV infrastructure deployment plans to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, created by the U.S. Energy and Transportation departments in December to assist with planning and implementation of a national EV charging network, including distributing funds to states.
Plans submitted by Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin are among those approved. D.C. and Puerto Rico plans also are approved.
These states can now be reimbursed for certain costs related to the development of their plans. They can use the funding for projects directly related to the charging of a vehicle, such as upgrading or constructing new charging infrastructure, and activities related to station maintenance and workforce development.
"Thanks to the commitment of state leaders who worked hard to develop EV charging networks that work for their residents, we were able to approve these state charging plans quickly and ahead of schedule," said Stephanie Pollack, acting administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. "We are reviewing the remaining plans and are on track to finish the process by our target date of Sept. 30, if not sooner."
In June the Federal Highway Administration proposed a rule that would set minimum standards and requirements for federally funded EV charging stations to ensure they are accessible, user-friendly and interoperable among different charging companies and across a broad range of vehicles.
The proposal includes a requirement to build EV charging stations every 50 miles, no more than one mile off the highway, with a focus on the interstate system and alternative fuel corridors. Stations also would be required to have at least four 150-kilowatt-hour direct-current fast charging ports capable of simultaneously charging four EVs.
It also would require real-time information on station location, availability and pricing, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant state and federal requirements.
Federally funded EV charging stations also would be capable of servicing Tesla models. The automaker has its own fast charging network in the U.S. and globally.
President Biden wants half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be zero-emission by 2030, but building a reliable charging network could be a challenge for states looking to support EV adoption. As of June, there were a total of 100,111 public charging outlets scattered across 44,698 locations in the U.S., according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group.
A 2022 J.D. Power survey of 11,000 owners of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles found one out of every five respondents was unable to charge their vehicle when visiting a station. Of those, 72 percent said the station was malfunctioning or out of service.
To be sure, the proposed standards require consistency in EV charger installation, operation and maintenance. They also require federally funded chargers to be working 97 percent of the time.
"Making electric vehicle charging accessible to all Americans is critical to achieving a transportation sector that improves our environment and lessens our dependence on oil and gas," U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
"This first group of 35 plans from States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico now have the green light to build their pieces of the national charging network to ensure drivers can spend less on transportation costs while commuting confidently by charging along the way," she said.