Amid major federal investment in electric cars, it’s time for states to step up, advocates say

For years, electric vehicles posed a chicken-and-egg problem.

Mass adoption, seen as critical to cutting the tea the largest single source of US carbon emissions, can not happen until the infrastructure to allow drivers to recharge wherever they are in place. And those charging stations won’t arrive until more drivers switch to plug-in electric vehicles.

That is one of the reasons why the growth of sales of electric vehicles it’s sluggish for many decades past, industry experts say.

Times are changing, however. A commercial for an electric version of the best-selling truck covering the airwaves shows US automakers such as. Ford and Chevrolet are jumping with both feet into the EV market, vying with the likes of startups like Rivian for a share of the lucrative pickup market. And far from offering a single electric model here or there, many automakers are planning to leave mostly electric in the next two decades.

Between 2015 and 2021, charging stations for plug-in electric cars more than three timesAccording to the Research bench, although the infrastructure is generally still clustered in large metro areas.

And billions in electric vehicle charging infrastructure funds go directly to states in the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021 and set tax credit in the more recent Inflation Reduction Act may buck that trend.

“We are living in a historic moment in terms of federal leadership on climate and clean energy technologies,” said Sarah Baldwin, director of electrification for Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan energy and climate policy think tank. Baldwin said the federal action signals the end of the “yo-yo, on-again, off-again” policy on electric vehicles.

“We’re shifting in a way we’ve never shifted before,” he says. “These two pieces of legislation 100% lay the groundwork for transforming the US transportation sector to a clean electric future, one that is better for our health, that stimulates the US economy and that reverses climate change.”

But while the federal government has sent a strong signal to consumers and the car industry, it will be up to state and local governments to help make ubiquitous electric vehicle charging a reality.

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“Countries that proactively embrace this industry … will reap benefits in terms of economic development, job creation and investment in the country,” said Cory Bullis, senior public affairs manager for FLO, a Canadian manufacturer and operator of cutting-edge charging stations. tape in October on its first US facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “For states to effectively use this federal funding opportunity, they also need to do the work to understand what their charging infrastructure needs are.”

‘EVs are coming through’

The bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress last year included $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of more than half a million vehicle charging stations. About $5 billion of that is dedicated to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula program, which will provide each state with funds that reflect its share of federal highway aid. Another $2.5 billion is for discretionary grants for charging and filling infrastructure leveled increase charging access in “rural, underserved and overburdened communities”.

All 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico has been submitted and had its NEVI plan approved by the Federal Highway Administration, unlocking more than $1.5 billion in funding for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 that is expected to help build a charging system covering 75,000 miles of highway. If all goes to plan over the next five years, the nation will have a charging station every 50 miles along the federal highway system, with a few exceptions.

Iowa’s plan includes about $7.6 million for fiscal year 2022 from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, with $10.9 million in estimated funding in fiscal 2023. There are 742 miles of designated charging corridors ready or waiting in Iowa.

“I’m surprised that all the states are submitting plans and chasing money,” said Chris Bast, a former deputy director at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality who is now director of EV infrastructure investment at the Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes it. policy to accelerate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

He said that the portions for the states in the NEVI program are not large in the grand scheme of federal highway funding and wondered if the money is worth the effort for state officials, especially in places that do not seem particularly dedicated to electric vehicles.

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“Often anything that smells like climate action or clean energy … people go to the priors and go to the corner,” he said. “But I think EVs are coming through and charging EVs are coming through. States across the country don’t care if it’s red, blue or in between they’re going to make money.

‘Now is a good time to step up to the plate’

While infrastructure legislation provides direct money to build charging infrastructure, the electric vehicle component of this year’s Inflation Reduction Act is mostly centered on tax credits.

Achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, the Biden administration goalwill require all new passenger vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be electrified “no later than 2035 and 2045, respectively,” per report Baldwin is a co-author for Energy Innovation.

That means the country must “rapidly build sufficient charging infrastructure to ensure a predictable driver experience while reducing range anxiety,” the report said. At the same time, Congress and President Joe Biden see the Inflation Reduction Act as an opportunity to make domestic production of electric cars and trucks and the components needed to build them a top priority.

sinew expand tax credits for new passenger electric vehicles, create a new tax credit for commercial electric vehicles and used electric vehicles and issue new sourcing requirements for electric vehicle components, intended to foster the growth of the battery and mineral industry in the United States and countries that the United States has. free trade agreement, said Baldwin.

The legislation also extends the federal tax credit on charging equipment through 2032 – 30% up to $1,000 for an individual and 6% with a maximum credit of $100,000 per unit for commercial use – even if it must be located in low income or rural areas, per an analysis by the Electrification Coalition.

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“It sends a signal to automakers that say if they build it we have support in place to make sure people buy it,” said Bast.

But the state can and should do more, Baldwin and Bast said.

More countries, for example, can adopt rigorous emission standards aimed at phasing out internal combustion cars and new rules targeting heavy-emission trucks and large commercial vehicles such as in New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere, Baldwin said. States can also add their own electric vehicle incentives and tweak fees they charge electric car instead of gas tax, which pays for road construction in many countries. Fees can vary, from $50 per year in Colorado to $200 in Ohio and Arkansas to $225 in Washington, per National Conference of Provincial Legislatures.

Virginia, for exampleIt is rolling out a voluntary system in which drivers pay based on miles traveled instead of a high fixed fee.

“The state still plays a leadership role in making sure the EV transition is smooth and easy for consumers and beneficial for the economy,” said Baldwin. “Now is a great time to step up to the plate and take action.”

The United States could also take a cue from the federal government, which created the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, linking the U.S. Department of Transportation and Energy to help coordinate efforts on clean transportation, Bast, a former Virginia official, said many states. agencies do not have experience working together on issues like charging infrastructure, which incorporates the electrical network, road system and other policy areas.

“The investment in infrastructure legislation and the Inflation Reduction Act really throw up a window for state and local policy action,” he said.

State and local governments can take the lead by electrifying their own fleets, checking permit regimes for charging infrastructure, connecting charging companies with potential host businesses as well as identifying communities that may qualify for charging infrastructure grants.

“Your work will either make it easier for EV or harder for EV,” he said.

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