Funds now available for national EV charging infrastructure; regulations for big rig charging on hold

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Funds now available for national EV charging infrastructure; regulations for big rig charging on hold
The nation's infrastructure isn't equipped to deal with the anticipated influx of electric vehicles over the next decade. New government grants that will help fund charging stations around the country aim to change that.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is quickly moving forward to fulfill his administration’s promise to develop the nation’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, as well as infrastructure for other alternative energy sources.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) just opened applications for a new multi-billion-dollar program to fund EV charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure in communities across the country and along designated highways, interstates and major roadways.

According to a news release from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), “This is a key step towards the president’s goals of building a national network of 500,000 public EV charging stations and reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52% by 2030.”

This news comes on the heels of the finalization of national minimum standards and requirements for EV charging stations set forth by the FHWA; however, these rules do not include electric big rigs — at least for now.

FHWA officials said they “decided not to broaden the applicability of this final rule to include minimum standards for MD/HD (medium duty and heavy duty) EV charging infrastructure primarily so as not to preempt the pace of the technological innovation.”

According to the American Trucking Associations, there are currently 1,215 medium-and heavy-duty electric trucks in operation, with 140,000 on order. That’s compared to 1.45 million battery-electric light-duty vehicles registered in the U.S.

Despite acknowledging the unique needs of MD/HD EVs, several commenters on the Federal Register listing identified that the MD/HD EV sector “is less evolved than the light-duty EV charging sector and that, because this portion of the industry is still in its infancy, there may be a need to continue to monitor technological developments before solidifying certain requirements specific to MD/HD EV needs.”

In fact, commenters pointed out that MD/HD EV charging technologies are evolving and will be used in a number of ways. While many medium-duty vehicles will likely charge at fleet depots and operate under hub-and-spoke business models where they would not venture significant distances from their base locations, a growing sector of MD/HD vehicles will require on-corridor charging.

Some commenters suggested that these requirements be designed so as to consider the future accommodation of power demands and site use/circulation needs of long-haul trucking. Yet other commenters requested that requirements address MD/HD EV charging needs immediately, with some suggesting that a certain number of federally-funded EV charging parking spaces be designed to accommodate MD/HD needs.

Many commenters identified an opportunity to coordinate MD/HD charging with required off-duty breaks for long-haul truckers. One commenter noted that the regulation should consider dwell time needs for MD/HD charging and ensure that dwell time fees not penalize MD/HDs for their longer dwell times for charging. A handful of commenters identified a need to modify EV charging signage so as to help longhaul truckers identify MD/HD charging opportunities that can best align with their federal hours of service requirements.

As for funding the infrastructure needed to support EVs, the USDOT’s new Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will provide $2.5 billion over five years to a wide range of applicants, including cities, counties, local governments, and tribes. This round of funding makes up to $700 million from fiscal years 2022 and 2023 funding available to deploy EV charging and other alternative vehicle-fueling infrastructure projects in publicly accessible locations in urban and rural communities, as well as along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs).

“By helping bring EV charging to communities across the country, this Administration is modernizing our infrastructure and creating good jobs in the process,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “With today’s announcement, we are taking another big step forward in creating an EV future that is convenient, affordable, reliable, and accessible to all Americans.”

The CFI Discretionary Grant Program builds on the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. EV chargers constructed with CFI funds must adhere to those same standards, a requirement that supports a consistent charging experience for users and ensures that our national charging network is convenient, reliable and Made in America.

“Extending EV charging infrastructure into traditionally underserved areas will ensure that equitable and widespread EV adoption takes hold,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Ensuring that charging stations are more visible and accessible in our communities addresses the concerns many American drivers have when considering making the switch to electric.”

While the NEVI Formula Program sends money to states, Puerto Rico and D.C. to build EV charging infrastructure along designated Interstates, U.S. routes and state highways, the CFI Discretionary Grant Program awards competitive grants to projects serving a range of applicants to fill gaps in the national charging and alternative-fueling network and build out charging in communities. A priority of the CFI program is bringing EV charging into urban and rural communities, downtown areas and local neighborhoods, particularly in underserved and disadvantaged communities, as well as to designated alternative fuel corridors.

“Both the NEVI and CFI programs will create good-paying jobs across the country as more workers are needed to install and maintain EV charging stations, and both programs will help put the country on a path to a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030,” the news release noted.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law divides the CFI program into two distinct grant funding categories and requires that 50% of the funding over five years is made available for each:

The Community Program will provide $1.25 billion to deploy publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure, along with hydrogen, propane or natural gas fueling infrastructure in communities.

Infrastructure may be located on any public road or in other publicly accessible locations, such as parking facilities at public buildings, public schools, and public parks, or in publicly accessible parking facilities owned or managed by a private entity.

The Corridor Program will provide $1.25 billion to deploy publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure and hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors.

“FHWA is committed to helping towns and cities, large and small, build modern, sustainable infrastructure that promotes equity and opportunity for their local economies and net-zero emissions for the nation by 2050,” FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt said. “By encouraging the adoption and expansion of EV charging and alternative fuels, CFI program investments have the potential to significantly address the transportation sector’s outsized contributions to climate change.”

Eligible applicants and projects for both categories are outlined in a Notice of Funding Opportunity. Applications are due by May 30, 2023.

“It’s critical that we build a national charging network that provides EV drivers with the right type of charging in the right location — whether that’s high-powered charging on highway corridors and in urban hubs … where EV drivers or riders live, work and play,” Joint Office Executive Director Gabe Klein said. “By working with cities and communities through the CFI program to get this mix right, we can ensure that everyone has convenient and affordable access to riding and driving electric.”


The Trucker News Staff

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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