WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina has a lot of work to do to meet the growing need for accessible charging stations for electric vehicles, and an announcement today indicates the accelerator is being pushed down toward meeting those goals.

A Chevrolet Volt hybrid car is seen charging at a ChargePoint charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Under the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, North Carolina is scheduled to receive $16 million this year and $109 million from the $5 billion being invested nationally in the next five years to establish charging stations along interstate highways. And now two years’ worth of those allocations will be released early.

All 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia will have access to all planned funding for fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 – or $39.4 million – a release from the Biden administration said. That’s more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers across approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the country.

On Aug. 1 the NC Department of Transportation published its deployment plan to expand on the existing 2,655 charging ports, and this acceleration will provide $39.4 million toward that process. That’s a 2-phase project that builds out first along what officials like to call Alternate Fuel Corridors (or AFCs).

Those corridors essentially are existing interstate highways (I-40, I-85, I-73 and I-74 in the Piedmont Triad), and the state’s plan calls for Phase 1 to begin in October with public listening sessions to expand the number of program-compliant stations along the designated AFCs in North Carolina.

Compliance with federal plans requires there to be charging stations every 50 miles along those interstates and within 1 mile of each “corridor.” Each charging station must have four or more chargers of 150 kilowatts each.

Electric cars are parked at a charging station in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The NCDOT’s report says there are only 10 EV charging stations in the state that meet those specifications, and there’s only one in the Piedmont Triad: a Walmart on West Elmsley Street in Greensboro, which is near I-85 and has eight chargers (second most in the state). The next closest are in Statesville and Hillsborough.

Phase 2 of the plan would deal with more community-based charging station plans, and NCDOT’s report says that as of July 2022 there are 718 stations and 1,408 chargers (or EVSE ports) publicly accessible in the state, excluding Tesla-only chargers.

You can find electric charging stations across the Triad, but most of them have two chargers, NCDOT says.

In this Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, photo, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis responds to questions during an interview in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina voters were deciding on Super Tuesday which Democrat they believe can unseat Sen. Thom Tillis and whether the current GOP lieutenant governor is the one best suited to oust Gov. Roy Cooper in the fall.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

“Investing in the charging infrastructure necessary to support electrification is critical for keeping North Carolina a competitive state to do business in,” U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said in a statement sent by his staff to WGHP. “This is just one way the bipartisan infrastructure law I helped write will modernize and improve our state’s infrastructure system.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper earlier this year issued an executive order that called for the number of registered electric vehicles to reach at least 1.250 million by 2030, with electric vehicles comprising 50% of all sales by that year.

That matches President Joe Biden’s announced goal for half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be zero-emissions vehicles in an effort to reduce emissions to about 50% below the 2005 levels.

Rep. Kathy Manning
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro)

Growth in NC

“Right now, North Carolina is leading the way in developing innovative technologies and advancing clean energy jobs. North Carolina’s comprehensive plan to utilize the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will accelerate our state’s shift toward clean energy while making electric vehicle usage more equitable, practical, and reliable,” Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) of the 6th Congressional District, said in a release. “I was proud to help pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is making critical investments in North Carolina to fix our outdated infrastructure and remain competitive in the 21st-century economy.”

As of 2021, there were fewer than 100,000 registered in North Carolina state, although that number is on the rise. Auto manufacturers, which have lagged in delivering electric vehicles because of supply-chain issues earlier this year, have said they would have about 100 pure EVs available by 2024.

North Carolina will play a significant role in that expansion, first with the announcement of the Toyota EV battery manufacturing facility at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, the plans by Vietnamese auto manufacturer Vinfast to build electric SUVs in Chatham County and the $5 billion investment by Wolfspeed to manufacture microchips at a facility in Chatham County.

Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in the release that Tuesday’s announcement will allow states to “ramp up their work to build out EV charging networks that will make driving an EV more convenient and affordable for their residents and will serve as the backbone of our national EV charging network. The Federal Highway Administration will continue to work closely with states as we implement this historic funding.”

What the plan includes

The release said that each state had to submit its plan for approval from the federal oversight so that they can be reimbursed for all relevant costs. The release said those opportunities include:

  • Upgrade of existing and construction of new EV charging infrastructure.
  • Operation and maintenance costs of these charging stations.
  • Installation of on-site electrical service equipment.
  • Community and stakeholder engagement.
  • Workforce development activities.
  • EV charging station signage.
  • Data sharing activities.
  • Related mapping analysis and activities.