The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued program guidance on Feb. 10 for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, which will provide funding to states to strategically deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Below are the top eight takeaways for states and other stakeholders.
For all the details, check out the Program Guidance document, housed on www.driveelectric.gov.
- The Funding: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) includes up to $7.5 billion in dedicated funding to help make EV chargers accessible to all Americans for any trip they wish to take. The $7.5 billion is divided into two buckets: a $5 billion formula program and a $2.5 billion discretionary grant program. The $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program will provide dedicated funding to states to strategically deploy charging stations and establish a nationwide interconnected network – primarily along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors.
- State Deployment Plans: States must develop a State EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan, which must be submitted to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation by Aug. 1, 2022. The Federal Highway Administration will review plans and determine whether they are approved by Sept. 30. States are allowed to submit plans early, and those plans will be approved on a rolling basis. If a state does not submit a plan by the deadline, it could forfeit formula funding for the fiscal year.
- Benefits to Rural and Disadvantaged Communities: The two charging infrastructure programs in the BIL will support the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which establishes a goal that at least 40% of the benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy infrastructure are distributed to disadvantaged communities. This does not mean that states must direct 40% of charging infrastructure funding to disadvantaged communities. Rather, the federal government is encouraging states, in the development of their plans, to address the need for publicly available charging infrastructure in rural corridors and underserved or disadvantaged communities. This includes significant outreach and public engagement with these communities to ensure that diverse views are heard and considered throughout the planning process and to ensure that the deployment, installation, operation, and use of EV charging infrastructure achieves equitable and fair distribution of benefits and services.
- Minimum Standards for Chargers: The Joint Office will develop, in coordination with stakeholders, minimum standards and requirements for EV chargers under these programs by May 13. Topics for those standards and requirements could include issues concerning installation, operation, or maintenance of EV charging infrastructure; traffic control and signage; data collection and sharing; network connectivity and payment; and accessibility of information on station availability, pricing, and locations.
- The Joint Office: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sets aside $300 million for the Departments of Transportation and Energy to establish a Joint Office tasked with formulating NEVI program guidance and best practices, providing a vision for the program, and offering technical and other assistance to states and localities in the planning and implementation of a national EV charging network while supporting additional transportation electrification efforts across the federal government. This unprecedented collaboration between USDOT and DOE will maximize the investment potential of the BIL and is a model for state agency collaboration across the country.
- Alternative Fuel Corridors: States need to use NEVI Formula Program funds to fully build out EV charging networks along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors. A key objective of this funding is to ensure a convenient, affordable, reliable, and equitable national network. But if a state determines (and FHWA agrees) that its designated Alternative Fuel Corridors are fully built out, the state may use funds provided under the NEVI Formula Program for EV charging infrastructure in any other eligible location.
- Eligible Projects: NEVI funds are restricted to projects that are directly related to EV charging infrastructure that is open to the public or to commercial fleet operators from more than one company. There are several general types of projects for which NEVI program funds can be used:
- Acquisition and installation of charging infrastructure, including upgrades and expansions to existing charging station locations – including on-site distributed energy resources
- Operations and maintenance assistance for up to five years
- Development phase activities, including community outreach and participation
- Traffic control devices and signage on-site and in the right-of-way
- Data sharing
- Mapping and analysis activities, including for identification of disadvantaged communities and for estimating benefits to those communities in alignment with the Justice40 initiative.
- Station Considerations: There are nine specific areas states must consider in developing their plans for the strategic deployment of EV charging infrastructure. States should develop their plans consistent with these considerations and with the overarching goal for construction, installation, or upgrade of EV charging infrastructure to be completed not later than six months from procurement. The nine areas of consideration are:
- The distance between publicly available EV charging infrastructure – ideally spaced no more than fifty miles apart and less than one mile from Interstates and highway corridors.
- Connections to the electric grid – reliability, accessibility, safety, streamlined permitting, clean energy, and utility partnerships are all highly valued considerations.
- Proximity to restrooms, small businesses, and other amenities.
- The need for publicly available EV charging infrastructure in rural corridors and underserved or disadvantaged communities.
- Long-term operation and maintenance to avoid stranded assets.
- Existing subnational EV charging infrastructure programs and incentives.
- Partnership opportunities with public-private or private investment in EV charging infrastructure.
- Existing market expectations for power levels and charging speeds and future-proofed station design to allow maximum flexibility for future upgrades.
- Other factors as determined by the Secretary of Transportation. These include consumer protection, cybersecurity, domestic manufacturing, emergency evacuation planning, environmental permitting, resilience, and terrain related issues.