Just 7 EV Charging Stations Deployed Under $5 Billion Plan from 2021 Called ‘Pathetic’ by U.S. Senator – We’re Not Surprised

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Filed under Automotive, EV News, News

A 2021 U.S. government program, funded with $5 billion, has only seen the deployment of seven electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, drawing sharp criticism from a U.S. senator. The slow pace of development has been called “pathetic” and a “vast administrative failure” by Senator Jeff Merkley, highlighting a major issue in the federal efforts to support the widespread adoption of EVs, a key component of the Biden Administration’s climate goals.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), led by Shailen Bhatt, reported that the seven operational stations include just a few dozen charging ports in total. This has been a significant disappointment for those who view the expansion of EV-charging infrastructure as essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering the sale of new EVs. Bhatt expressed his own frustration, acknowledging the slow progress and indicating that the agency is collaborating with states to improve the situation.

Compounding the problem, current federal highway regulations prohibit the installation of EV-charging stations at rest stops, further limiting potential deployment sites. Senator Merkley emphasized the need for immediate corrective actions and Senator Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee, suggested the possibility of holding a hearing to address the sluggish deployment of charging stations.

Republican lawmakers have also voiced their concerns, noting the minimal progress made since the program’s inception. The White House aims to establish a nationwide network of 500,000 charging ports, strategically located no more than 50 miles apart on major highways. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm shared that 27 states have initiated commercial requests for building charging stations, projecting that around 1,000 federally funded stations would be operational by the end of the year. Despite challenges, Granholm remains optimistic, pointing out that the number of publicly available fast-charging ports has increased by 90% since the beginning of the Biden administration. However, the rules in place are very limiting for contractors ready to build out the EV charging network, which was a determining factor for many to bow out of the attempt even when there were NEVI (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure) program funds available to eligible contractors and businesses.

Automotive Addicts’ and Other Contractor EV Station Plans Hit Major Roadblocks

At Automotive Addicts, we were initially excited to contribute to the EV revolution by planning to build an EV charging station in Florida. However, our enthusiasm was quickly tempered by the numerous bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles we encountered. The federal rules governing the deployment of EV chargers were particularly obstructive, and it often seemed like the government agencies involved were not fully coordinated or clear on the procedures. After countless meetings, investment considerations, and planning, our time was ultimately wasted and our frustration grew with a bleak outlook of how the U.S. government plans on allocation of funds to help build out new EV charging stations.

Our experience echoed the frustrations highlighted by Senator Merkley and others. The administrative inefficiencies and the regulatory environment made it exceedingly difficult to move forward with our plans. This included dealing with multiple overlapping programs and restrictions, such as the prohibition of installing chargers at rest stops. These roadblocks significantly delayed our project plans, ultimately forcing us to reconsider our approach and ending our quest to build out any EV charging station.

The challenges we faced underscore the need for more streamlined and supportive policies to facilitate the expansion of EV infrastructure. Without addressing these issues, the goal of creating a robust network of EV charging stations across the nation will remain a distant dream. In the end, we came to the conclusion that the Department of Transportation and the U.S. government is doing a lousy job at building out a viable EV charging infrastructure. Furthermore, a newfound heavy reliance on Tesla with the announcement from many automakers moving to utilize the Tesla NACS starting in the next couple of years only goes so far to expand American’s charging needs.


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