Driving an electric vehicle? Learn how Pa. plans to spend federal money on new charging corridors

Pennsylvania was already working on electric vehicle charging corridors before the bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) was signed, and now the public can hear the state’s plans and weigh in on them.

The BIL includes $7.5 billion to expand the electric vehicle charging network across the country, including $5 billion for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.

For Pennsylvania, that means $171.5 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, $25.4 million in this fiscal year alone. The state will also have access to $2.5 billion in discretionary grants for all alternative fueling infrastructure.

But first, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation must have a plan for spending the money, and the plan is due by August 1 to the US Department of Transportation.

A public webinar on the plans is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, featuring PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian and other state officials.

You can register to attend the webinar here. The public can also register or submit comments by emailing [email protected]

Keystone State has seen a dramatic increase in electric vehicle sales during the pandemic. In March 2019, there were 9,700 electric vehicles registered, and now there are 23,000, PennDOT said.

The state has pledged to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, including electrifying 25% of its own fleet by 2025 and offering state rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.

The aim of the new funding is to ensure that these new drivers can access charging stations, especially on long journeys.

To be eligible for new federal NEVI funding, roads must be on a designated alternative fuel corridor, electric vehicle charging corridors with DC fast-charging stations for long-distance drivers.

PennDOT has designated its freeways, including I-78, I-80, and I-81, and Routes 30 and 15 as corridors.

Interstate 80 is unique, in that all states connected by I-80 between Iowa and New Jersey participate in a multi-state enforcement proposal led by the Illinois DOT.

The goal is to have chargers within 50 miles of each other along designated highways. Previously “ready” corridors had charging stations within 8 miles of the road, but this has been updated for corridors with stations within 1 mile of a freeway exit or a highway intersection.

When the alternative fuel corridors are fully constructed, the state can then use the funding to add EV charging equipment on any public road or in any publicly accessible location, including parking lots in public buildings, public schools and parks.

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Sarah Cassi can be reached at [email protected].

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