Slow Rollout of National Charging System Could Hinder E.V. Adoption
Lawmakers approved $5 billion for states to build a network of fast chargers two years ago. Although some states have made progress in recent weeks, most have not yet awarded contracts or started construction.
By Madeleine Ngo Reporting from Washington
More than two years ago, lawmakers approved billions of dollars to build out a national electric vehicle charging network in the hopes of encouraging more drivers to switch to cleaner cars. The money, included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, was intended to help assure drivers they could reliably travel longer distances without running out of power.
But a robust federal charging network is still years away. Only two states — Ohio and New York — have opened any charging stations so far. A handful of others have broken ground on projects in recent weeks, with the aim of completing them in early 2024. In total, 28 states, plus Puerto Rico, have either awarded contracts to build chargers or started accepting bids for projects as of Dec. 15. The rest are much further behind on starting construction.
Broad availability of chargers is critical for the Biden administration’s goal of getting electric vehicles to make up half of new car sales by 2030. Americans routinely cite “range anxiety” as one of the biggest impediments to buying an E.V. About 80 percent of respondents cited concerns about a lack of charging stations as a reason not to purchase an electric vehicle, according to an April survey from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The Biden administration is trying to entice consumers to buy electric vehicles both by offering tax credits of up to $7,500 and promising to build out a national backbone of high-speed chargers. That network is meant to give drivers the assurance that they could reach a reliable charger every 50 miles along major roads and highways.
The White House has set a goal of building a national network of at least 500,000 public chargers by 2030, but researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have projected that the country will need more than one million public charging ports by the end of the decade.
Ben Shapiro, a researcher at RMI, a nonprofit that promotes the energy transition, said the country needed to accelerate the pace of new charging infrastructure considerably.
“People certainly have this perspective that there isn’t enough charging,” Mr. Shapiro said. “And that I think does hamper people’s interest in E.V.s.”
Electric vehicle sales have been climbing faster than any other major category of automobile, with the nation on track to hit more than one million sales for the first time this year. President Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, has also spurred a surge of investment in electric vehicle production across the country. But demand has not grown as much as expected.
Some state transportation officials said the rollout has taken more than two years because they had little experience building chargers and it has been challenging to navigate new federal requirements.
In Tennessee, officials started reviewing bids for contracts after closing applications last month. Preston Elliott, a deputy commissioner of the state’s transportation department, said he thought Tennessee was moving quickly, but it still took officials about two years to get to that stage, in part because they had to submit two plans to the federal government and wanted to have conversations with stakeholders before opening bids.
The Rise of Electric Vehicles
- Corporate Malfeasance: Trevor Milton, who founded the electric-truck company Nikola, was sentenced to four years in prison in a fraud case that highlighted the financial carnage left behind by a crop of electric vehicle start-ups and their promoters.
- Tiny Vehicles, Big Shift: In Asia and Aftica, vehicles that run on two and three wheels are quietly going electric — in turn knocking down oil demand by one million barrels a day this year.
- A Shortage of Workers: China’s electric vehicle market is the world’s largest and fastest growing. But the country is struggling to hire the skilled workers it needs to keep up, amid a shortfall in vocational training and a surplus of young people who aren’t interested in factory work.
- Tesla’s Cybertruck: Tesla began delivering its much delayed, highly anticipated Cybertruck pickup to customers, entering one of the most lucrative but competitive segments of the auto industry.
“Federal funds come with lots of requirements and lots of strings,” Mr. Elliott said. “I’ve been doing this for about 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever encountered a program where you’ve had to do so much planning before you spend a penny.”
The U.S. Transportation Department issued final rules for the program early this year, outlining technological requirements and standards that have to be met. Chargers must be within a mile of an interstate exit or highway and have four ports that are all operational and meet minimum power levels 97 percent of the time.
But the law gave states flexibility to determine how to award contracts and dole out funds, resulting in varying degrees of progress.
Ohio became the first state to open a charger funded by the new program earlier this month. Mike DeWine, the state’s Republican governor, cited charging concerns as a primary reason for getting the system up and running. There are about 43,200 electric vehicles registered in Ohio.
“This industry is not going to develop unless people think they have places where they can charge their car,” Mr. DeWine said. “We want to send the signal that not only are we getting companies in here that are building things for the future, but we want our consumers in Ohio to have the ability to benefit from that.”
Six more charging stations are being designed and expected to begin construction in the next month or two, state officials said. Officials expect to build about 50 charging stations by the end of 2026 to meet the program’s requirement.
Most states are well behind Ohio and New York. While some are bidding out contracts to build the network, the actual installation of all of the chargers can take years to finish because projects have to clear environmental reviews and other bureaucratic hurdles in addition to the construction, state officials said. Some states are also building chargers in several phases.
“If you were talking about building a sidewalk, we build sidewalks all day long,” said Mr. Elliott of Tennessee. “When you start talking about a charging system, being open 24/7 and meeting certain power thresholds, I mean, think about the complexities of that.”
Mr. Elliott said state officials were planning to fund 32 charging stations to meet the program’s requirement and aimed to complete those projects in two years once contracts were awarded.
Some states with sparse populations and little charging infrastructure have also taken longer to roll out their programs. In Wyoming, the state’s transportation department began accepting responses this month from potential station owners to better gauge interest in using the federal funds, which can cover up to 80 percent of the project’s cost, plus operating expenses.
State officials said they did not know when or if they would award contracts because that would depend on the level of interest. Keith Fulton, an assistant chief engineer at Wyoming’s Transportation Department, said the process was taking more than two years partly because the department has never installed an electric vehicle charger before.
States are also considering the types of connectors they will need. Although they only have to provide ports with Combined Charging System connectors, some states, such as Texas, will also require the plugs that Tesla cars use, known as the North American Charging Standard. Ford and General Motors have also announced that they would equip future vehicles with Tesla’s ports.
Loren McDonald, the chief executive of EVAdoption, a data and analysis firm that has been tracking each state’s progress, said it was concerning that some automakers have not been clear about whether they will provide adapters with the purchase of vehicles. That is in part because it could complicate the ability of some drivers to use the new chargers. But he noted that Tesla has won many of the bids so far, and other station owners will probably make upgrades to adapt to the market.
Senior Biden administration officials said they expected to see a wave of new chargers becoming available in the coming months, and the federal government had taken steps to help states move more quickly, including streamlining environmental permitting processes. Once states completed the planning and design work, they would be in a position to move much faster, they said.
Gabe Klein, the executive director of the federal Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, pointed to new private investments in charging infrastructure and said he expected the country to reach the administration’s goal before 2030.
“The private sector investment is staggering,” Mr. Klein said.
Nick Nigro, the founder of Atlas Public Policy, a policy and data research firm, said states have made substantial progress, but much of the work has not been visible to the public.
“I can imagine from the outside that it might look like this is taking a while,” Mr. Nigro said. “But that is the process we’ve set up in this country for how we spend money. There are a lot of checks and balances.”
Although some drivers said they wanted to see state officials use federal funds to build more chargers, they were still hesitant to make the switch to electric vehicles.
Barbara Ziegler, 66, a psychologist in Sheridan, Wyo., said she welcomed more chargers, but she did not feel comfortable yet buying an electric car. She said she often drives more than a hundred miles to see a diabetes specialist, attend conferences and go shopping in larger cities, and she was concerned about being stranded on the road because of the lack of chargers.
Ms. Ziegler said she would consider buying a hybrid car, but for now, she planned to stick with her 2012 Toyota RAV4 until it needed to be replaced.
“Here we have long, long highways without towns in between,” Ms. Ziegler said. “I would be too worried to try and do the drive just on electric.”
Here are more “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:
Powerful fohn in Northern Italy with >24C for the first time in December.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
Many records were broken,here a preliminary list of the main ones:
23.7 Bologna 23.1 AP
23 Parma AP
19.4 Ferrara and Bergamo
18.0 Bolzano tie pic.twitter.com/DuTAtKbL4r
Spectacular fohn day in Italy (next tweet) and Switzerland.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
In SWITZERLAND hottest December day on records for
Also incredibly warm nights with TMIN of 15.9C at Cevio, 2nd highest in December in Swiss climatic history (record 16.0C). https://t.co/ry7x3lJ5BX
Relentless record heat in the Gulf of Guinea in Africa.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
Yesterday 36.5C Mpouya HOTTEST DECEMBER DAY IN REPUBLIC OF CONGO (Brazzaville)
In NIGERIA 36.8C Lagos ties again its record set few days ago
More records are on the way…. pic.twitter.com/joqISSSJbJ
Record heat yesterday in the French Southern Territories in the Indian Ocean and in the territory of Mayotte.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
35.1 Coconi Oungani December record
Tmin 28.1 Highest Min. temperatures in December
Kudos: @EKMeteo pic.twitter.com/3dnO636OKD
Cold morning in JAPAN— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
Few stations with data since the 1970s set a new record of lowest temperature for December
-5.1 Kyotonabe (Kyoto Prefecture) tie
-4.2 Furue (Miyazaki)
-2.8 Uchinoura (Kagoshima)
Minimum temperatures map by JMA👎
Cold also in SE Asia: +1.3 Viengsay in LAOS pic.twitter.com/QV5qV0QU1H
SOUTH AFRICA HEAT WAVE— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 22, 2023
Today it was another scorching day in the South Africa and Namibian highlands.
Some max. temperatures include:
45.5 Augrabies Falls 635m asl
44.4 Upington 840m asl new monthly record
44.3 Twee Rivieren 882m
Tomorrow more records are possible. https://t.co/DH4wNhcclZ
🔴 Christmas looks mild for many in the east, but a colder start to the New Year looms! 🔵 pic.twitter.com/yeJuClnSHe— Ben Noll (@BenNollWeather) December 23, 2023
Here is More November 2023 Climatology:
November 2023 in #Bolivia was another exceptional month ,it beat the previous hottest November by over 1C.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
Records fell throughout the country the whole month,just like it happened in August,September and October. https://t.co/C8FS0IkxRC
November 2023 in Mayotte (French territory in the Indian Ocean of Southern Africa) was exceptionally hot:— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
With an average temperature of 29.6C it was the hottest November in its climatic record with an anomaly of over +2C vs 1991-2020 (rare in a tropical island). https://t.co/HmcPtzIA0n
November 2023 in the Reunion Island was exceptionally wet.— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) December 23, 2023
Temperature anomaly was +0.8C above average (5th warmest) while average rainfalls were nearly 3 time the normal and was the wettest November in over 50 years.
See rainfall anomalies map courtesy of Meteo France. pic.twitter.com/DllQLcdco3
Berkeley Earth’s #climate warning: "2023 is virtually certain (99% chance) to average more than 1.5 °C above our 1850-1900 baseline." https://t.co/bHqKYqAIkj @CodeRedEarth @BreakthroughCCR pic.twitter.com/UGido3tQO9— David Spratt (@djspratt) December 22, 2023
Reflecting back at temperatures over the last 12 months, and it's really quite revealing…— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) December 23, 2023
🟥 Warmer than average
🟦 Colder than average
For more information on methods: https://t.co/Y7TeMNRXTb pic.twitter.com/AUHZ8skjgj
Here is More Climate and News from Saturday:
Bob Henson and I put together a compendium of photos highlighting some of the remarkable extreme weather and climate events of another landmark year. See our post, “2023 in photos: A year of pain and progress on climate change” https://t.co/ODUGPJkiar— Jeff Masters (@DrJeffMasters) December 23, 2023
‘No one wants to be right about this’: #climate scientists’ horror & exasperation as global predictions play out— Prof. Peter Strachan (@ProfStrachan) December 23, 2023
"It’s as if the human race has received a terminal medical diagnosis & knows there is a cure, but has consciously decided not to save itself" https://t.co/yGw8NsF5Cd
My new video…— Paul Beckwith (@PaulHBeckwith) December 23, 2023
Only an Asteroid Hit or a Supervolcano this Week Can Keep Us Below 1.5 C according to Berkeley Earthhttps://t.co/BYL8kMeiEB #asteroid #volcano #supervolcano #climate #COP28 #ClimateCatastrophe #ClimateCrisis pic.twitter.com/GDgw1VgYly
Without major action to reduce emissions, global temperature is on track to rise— Thomas Reis (@peakaustria) December 23, 2023
by 2.5°C to 4.5°C by 2100” (NASA 2023)
“We Will Not Sign Our Own Death Warrant” (a delegate at COP28)
Whether anything can be done by humans to arrest or reverse global warming and its… https://t.co/3MuCiQdE4x pic.twitter.com/J7Rbs2nvT7
“We’re no longer dealing with the errors of a single human being, but with the tragic collective error of burning such vast amounts of fossil fuels, long after we should have stopped.” https://t.co/OTHhfyuojR— David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells) December 23, 2023
"Parts of Amazon have already seen 3°C of warming"— GO GREEN (@ECOWARRIORSS) December 23, 2023
as humans continue to burn down large swathes of Amazon and even Lula supports paving of BR-319, a 540-mile highway that bisects the Amazon from Manaus to Porto Velho and will lead to even more deforestation
Photo Bruno Kelly https://t.co/w5HY4xA3sH pic.twitter.com/MnZmiVAQ0Q
Your 'moment of doom' for Dec. 23, 2023 ~ Doom loopy.— Prof. Eliot Jacobson (@EliotJacobson) December 23, 2023
"Exhausted by the endless cycles of elation when it feels like humanity is taking steps to rein in emissions, followed by despair when another record falls or there's another climate-driven disaster."https://t.co/dzddtfUgQc
Your bonus 'moment of doom' for Dec. 23, 2023 ~ Prepping for the apocalypse.— Prof. Eliot Jacobson (@EliotJacobson) December 23, 2023
"doomsday prepping is no longer the domain of a fringe faction storing ten years worth of baked beans… Prepping is big business, and the billionaires aren’t being stingy."https://t.co/rKBTsP6Yx6
Today’s News on Sustainable Energy, Traditional Polluting Energy from Fossil Fuel, and the Green Revolution:
U.S. automakers are leading the transition to an electrified future but are tied to a battery metal supply chain controlled by China. Seafloor nodules could help solve the supply problem and enable the growth of battery-related industries at home. Sign up for the newsletter.— The Metals Company (@themetalsco) December 8, 2023
Special Report – Methane in Texas: Hidden Danger#Methane is super heating the planet and Texas is the worst polluter in the world.— @TXsharon Methane Hunter (@TXsharon) December 23, 2023
Texas regulatory agencies are failing to regulate the #oilandgas industry.@brett_shipp @SpectrumNews1TX https://t.co/i3mGOgi24h
#SaturdayMorning Reading: "The Albanese government has a target to have 82% of electricity generated from renewables by 2030 and last month expanded a taxpayer scheme to underwrite projects after concerns that progress was too slow." Read more: https://t.co/j18uY3La4F— Silicon Valley North (@CCLSVN) December 23, 2023
New #nuclear …— Dr Paul Dorfman (@dorfman_p) December 23, 2023
'Why would anyone spend a single dollar on a technology that, if planned today, won’t even be available to help until 2035-2045?’ said Mark Jacobson, an energy specialist at Stanford University.'https://t.co/9qC3rMntDD
#SaturdayMorning Reading: “From an industrial point of view, to put this pledge into reality. To me, this pledge is very close to absurd, compared to what the industry has shown.” #COP28’s Unrealistic Tripling of Nuclear Power – https://t.co/lW2cf68BAD https://t.co/rl8rAZ9xuR— Silicon Valley North (@CCLSVN) December 23, 2023
In just one hour, a single private jet can emit two tonnes of CO2. The average person in the EU emits 8.2 tCO2eq over the course of an entire year.— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) December 23, 2023
Super polluters can't keep flying around like there’s no climate crisis.
It’s time to #BanPrivateJets.#ClimateJustice pic.twitter.com/al19tcqoft
New York is undertaking the largest urban resiliency project in the U.S.— Yale Environment 360 (@YaleE360) December 23, 2023
Seawalls, tidal gates, and more than five miles of waterside parks will protect Lower Manhattan against rising seas.https://t.co/xtmHyGf23b
More from the Weather Department:
En Fuego! https://t.co/UG5vlDeaN0— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) December 22, 2023
Through Dec 22nd, nearly 50% (48.4% to be exact) of the Contiguous U.S. is at least 5F (2.8C) warmer than normal. Only two years have seen more than half of the CONUS 5F+ warmer than normal (2015 and 2021). pic.twitter.com/Sey9FfglJT— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) December 23, 2023
Flooding in Holland. https://t.co/i72musYN5a— Deirdre Des Jardins💧🔥💨 (@flowinguphill) December 23, 2023
Rains sliding east the next few days. Outlook maps here where we could see some heavier stuff. Second surge still showing in the Gulf towards Florida after middle week. https://t.co/Hk3pbO7x8H pic.twitter.com/ywD6sSGxXI— Mike's Weather Page (@tropicalupdate) December 23, 2023
One year ago today was the start of the deadliest #blizzard in Buffalo, NY history. My blog explains how and why this Weather Catastrophe killed 47 people and how to limit fatalities when it occurs again, history does repeat itself. https://t.co/X5O2K0FNMV— Tom Niziol (@TomNiziol) December 23, 2023
Using the last 3 extended GEFS runs, this loop shows the time-lagged 90-member ensemble probability of at least one snow event over a 48-hour rolling window.— Tomer Burg (@burgwx) December 23, 2023
This also lines up with an increased likelihood of snow events south of I-80 east of the Rockies around Jan 4-10: pic.twitter.com/Phb2cQ7z2p
On this day in 1989, a major cold air outbreak overspread the U.S. east of the Rockies. Coinciding with a moisture plume in the Gulf of Mexico & forcing for ascent, a baroclinic wave developed unusually south with temperatures cold enough for accumulating snow in north Florida. https://t.co/LdIgWIuqKX pic.twitter.com/KQuX2EdZpg— Tomer Burg (@burgwx) December 23, 2023
SNOW IN FLORIDA 34 YEARS AGO! ❄️— Matt Devitt (@MattDevittWX) December 23, 2023
On this day in 1989, one of the craziest weather events in our state's history occurred. Between December 22nd – 24th, Southwest Florida had snow flurries, Sarasota to Daytona Beach had a dusting, and Northern Florida had 1 – 4" of snow and their… pic.twitter.com/uTMrLxWV4U
We wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend. From our team to you. 🎁🎄🎅🦌☃️ pic.twitter.com/lOrdoAwCv8— NOAA Climate.gov (@NOAAClimate) December 22, 2023
More on the Environment and Nature:
Ban use of bee-killing pesticide in UK, business chiefs tell government— GO GREEN (@ECOWARRIORSS) December 23, 2023
The neonicotinoid pesticide Cruiser SB is used on sugar beet and is highly toxic to bees.https://t.co/kxSUGahn9c
Extremely rare: A Grey Whale was spotted off the Miami coast for the first documented time, likely having traveled through the Northwest Passage from the Pacific Ocean! 🐋 pic.twitter.com/rqoQF3B346— AccuWeather (@accuweather) December 23, 2023
Worldwide, 10 MILLION trees are being hacked down every five or six hours.— Bill McGuire (@ProfBillMcGuire) December 23, 2023
This is a crime against nature and humanity. https://t.co/zNaxTu3qwV
‘Zombie deer disease’ epidemic spreads in Yellowstone as scientists raise fears it may jump to humans as humans eat infected Deer and kill the wolves and Bears that help slow the spread of the disease by preying on infected Deer https://t.co/QolN1aR3ii— GO GREEN (@ECOWARRIORSS) December 23, 2023
The widespread deployment of outdoor electric lighting means that the night is no longer dark for most people.— Science Magazine (@ScienceMagazine) December 23, 2023
Earlier this year, a special issue of Science examined the effects of #LightPollution on the natural world, human health, and the night sky. https://t.co/xXZlM5JMM4 pic.twitter.com/1Dr6wH3qWE
More on Other Science and the Beauty of Earth and this Universe:
“This year’s spate of rare illnesses may have come as a surprise to the uninitiated, but researchers following the way climate change influences disease say 2023 represents the continuation of a trend they expect will become more pronounced over time.” https://t.co/4dP8i5xV5D— David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells) December 22, 2023
It's a white Christmas Eve Eve in Salt Lake City! ☃️ Look at those huge snowflakes falling! pic.twitter.com/EwCFhhCMcL— AccuWeather (@accuweather) December 23, 2023
Studies show: Trees are the true air conditioners. Under a tree, the temperature can be 15 C° cooler than measured in the ambient air. Shade and evaporation create the same effect as a conventional A/C, but without electricity. A tree produces about 20-30 KW/h, as much as ten A/C pic.twitter.com/3WxKbwHgfe— Green is a mission (@Greenisamissio1) December 23, 2023
The positive impacts of urban forests on residents’ health are widely acknowledged. Relating the characteristics of green areas to visitors proved to improve the correlation between residents’ health and the quality of green areas. Ivana Živojinović from Forest Policy Research💚 pic.twitter.com/wmslION3kb— Green is a mission (@Greenisamissio1) December 23, 2023