Something that’s not in lawmaker limbo is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes a stunning $7.5 billion allocated for the build out of charging stations across the country. A guidance document released last week lays out plans for how the money will be used that include an eye towards justice, with explicit instructions for states to include in their proposals how they plan to “target at least 40% of the benefits towards disadvantaged communities” as well as rural communities. States have until Aug. 1 to submit plans, with the federal government deciding on which states get how much of those funds by Sept. 30. As E&E News notes, seemingly everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the EV charging station pie—and that was before guidance was even issued.
Hundreds of groups and individuals have submitted comments since the Federal Highway Administration posted its “Request for Information: Development of Guidance for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Deployment” Nov. 29, 2021. That includes the likes of Amazon, General Motors, Greyhound, and Uber, along with environmental justice groups, cities, and labor groups. These funds can be used not just for the creation of charging stations but for worker training, community outreach, and any added costs for station upkeep, plus specialty stations for larger vehicles, so it somewhat makes sense as to why a whole host of groups would suddenly seem interested in EVs. Even if casual Super Bowl viewers aren’t aware of what’s behind the EV push, experts believe it’s a positive sign when it comes to reaching Biden’s goal of half of all new vehicles that hit the road in 2050 being electric.
“Automakers don’t control demand, but they can work to build it to get everyone’s attention and start driving [it],” RMI Managing Director Britta Gross told Vox. The sustainability nonprofit has worked with the likes of General Motors and others to develop EV strategies and is one of the groups that provided comment regarding the $7.5 billion allocated for charging stations. RMI called the funds “a critical down-payment on the national EV charging network needed to enable a complete transition of the on-road transportation sector to zero emission electric vehicles … Spent wisely, $7.5 billion is sufficient to not only deliver the backbone for a far superior EV charging network than exists today—which is necessary to convince hundreds of millions of Americans to make the switch to an electric vehicle,” RMI noted. “Even more, if prioritized, this level of investment can help provide a charging network that ensures equity and access to all communities– urban, rural, and economically disadvantaged.”