Federal aid boosts state’s EV charging network

Transitioning the nation away from gas-powered transportation comes with many facets that need to come together. Developing reliable electric vehicles and batteries and then getting to a point where their price tag comes down is the first step.

But the key to widespread acceptance and use of electric vehicles is to have a robust system of rapid charging stations across the state.

That effort got a big boost recently when the Biden administration approved an ambitious plan that pumps $900 million into the 34 states that created plans for EV charging station buildouts. The funding comes from Biden’s huge infrastructure law. Biden has a goal of ultimately installing 500,000 chargers across America and building a network of fast-charging stations across 53,000 miles of freeways from coast to coast.

The eventual goal is to have stations at least every 50 miles.

Minnesota will get $68 million from the program over five years, along with a 20% non-federal match.

The state has been an early proponent of getting more stations built, starting with the creation of Alternative Fuel Corridors along the highly traveled I-94 and I-35 corridors.

Earlier surveys and studies show there is high interest in adding many more EV charging stations along the Highway 169 corridor from the Twin Cities to Mankato and on the Highway 60 route from Mankato to I-90, as well as along Highway 14, from Mankato to Rochester.

The state has been focusing on light-duty EV charging needs and will next year move to add more stations for medium- and heavy-duty EVs. That will be crucial as manufacturers are rolling out more electric semis and large trucks.

Getting more stations as soon as possible is vital to serve the scale of electric vehicle use needed to move away from gas-powered transportation. Having more stations also removes the “range anxiety” that keeps many people from buying electric vehicles because they’re worried about making long trips with them if they aren’t sure there will be charging stations available.

The federal funding will allow the state to work with existing service stations and other businesses, such as restaurants, where charging stations could be added. The federal funding boost promises to kickstart more private sector investments in electric charging stations.

The federal program is just what’s needed to truly move the nation toward the goal of ending the use of fuel-powered vehicles.

— Mankato Free Press


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