Feb 10, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden moves to spend new EV charging cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Biden administration is throwing open the doors for states to begin tapping $5 billion over five years from the bipartisan infrastructure law to expand electric vehicle charging on the nation's highways.

Why it matters: Transportation is the nation's largest source of carbon emissions. Charging growth is key to helping EVs move from a small — albeit growing — share of sales into becoming rivals for gas-powered cars and eventually replacing them in the market.

  • The White House has an aspirational target of 50% of all new cars sold in the U.S. being zero-emissions models by 2030.

Driving the news: The administration is making an initial $615 million available to states in fiscal 2022.

  • This morning the Transportation Department released formal guidance for how states can apply for the funds.
  • DOT and the Energy Department also unveiled a website that helps provide technical assistance.

The big picture: President Biden has set a goal of a national network of 500,000 public charging stations in place by 2030, and administration officials note that over 100,000 exist already.

What they're saying: "The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help us win the EV race by working with states, labor, and the private sector to deploy a historic nationwide charging network that will make EV charging accessible for more Americans," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

Zoom in: The $5 billion program is focused on building out charging on the nation's interstate highway system.

  • To access the funds, states must submit an EV infrastructure deployment plan by Aug. 1 to the DOT-DOE's Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, and plans will be approved by Sept. 30.
  • Plans filed earlier will be approved on a rolling basis, officials said. The federal government pays for 80% of projects under the program.
  • Officials said the funding will be consistent with the administration's environmental justice guidelines, which call for 40% of the benefits from federal clean energy and climate investments flow to disadvantaged communities.
  • The infrastructure law also has a separate $2.5 billion grant program for other projects to deploy charging and other alternative vehicle fuels in various areas. Officials say details on that will come later this year.

Yes, but: Another key part of the White House EV agenda remains stalled in Congress.

  • Democrats' big climate and social spending package would greatly expand consumer incentives for buying electric vehicles.
  • But the overall plan has collapsed, at least for now, absent buy-in from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
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