The National EV Charging Network is Preparing for Takeoff

On February 15, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the next steps in its plans to create a national EV charging network.  This included establishing minimum standards for federally funded EV infrastructure, publishing an implementation plan for the Build America and Buy America EV charging requirements, and announcing that applications will soon open for $700 million in discretionary grant program funding.

Standards for Federally Funded EV Charging Infrastructure

Federal Highway Administration published its final rule establishing regulations setting minimum standards and requirements for projects funded under the NEVI and other federal funding programs.  Generally, the requirements aim to ensure a predictable EV charging experience throughout the United States with chargers that have consistent plug types and charging speeds, common payment systems, accessible pricing information, locations, and availability.  Specifically, the rule focuses on six key areas.

  1. Installation, operation, and maintenance by qualified technicians of EV infrastructure.
  2. Interoperability of EV charging infrastructure.
  3. Traffic control devices and on premise signs acquired, installed, or operated.
  4. Data requested related to EV charging projects subject to this rule, including the content and frequency of submission of such data.
  5. Network connectivity of EV charging infrastructure.
  6. Information on publicly available EV charging infrastructure locations, pricing, real-time availability, and accessibility through mapping applications.

States receiving federal funds to build out EV charging infrastructure will have to ensure that their project specifications meet these requirements. Similarly, developers hoping to get a piece of the multibillion-dollar pie will also need to ensure that their chargers and related services satisfy the standards.

Buy America and Build America Implementation Plan

The goal of this plan is to incentivize companies to invest in the domestic production of EV charging related components. This was a key element in garnering enough support to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.  However, recognizing that it will take some time to build up the required supply chain for the domestic production of EV charging related components, the administration published the final temporary waiver to the Buy America requirements for steel, iron, manufactured products, and construction materials.  This waiver will apply to all EV chargers manufactured by July 1, 2024, with final assembly occurring in the United States, and installation beginning by October 1, 2024.  Thereafter, the waiver will begin a gradual phase-out with the administration reevaluating the waiver no later than 2028.

Ride and Drive Electric Grant Announcement

The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation will soon open applications for $700 million in discretionary grant funding to deploy EV infrastructure.  The final announcement is likely to include request for projects related to the following categories.

  1. Enhancing EV Charging Resiliency.
  2. Community-Driven EV Charging Deployment.
  3. Diversify EV Workforce Development.
  4. EV Charging Warnings and Reliability.
  5. Increasing Commercial Capacity for Testing and Certification of High-Power EV Chargers.
  6. Validating High-Power EV Charger Real-World Performance and Reliability.

The Biden Administration set a target of 50% of electric vehicle sale shares in the U.S. by 2030. These recently announced projects are another step in the rapid expansion of EV charging infrastructure needed to meet this goal.  Stay tuned for Foley Hoag’s continuing clean transportation series.

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