WYDOT Director not Worried About Partial Electric Charging Plan Rejection
On Tuesday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved all 50 states' plans for electric vehicle charging stations but rejected various exceptions Wyoming was hoping to get.
When the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) submitted its plan for electric vehicle charging stations across the state, it had included several exceptions it was hoping to have, namely to have charging stations farther away than the required 50 miles along the highway and farther out than one mile from the highway.
The money for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed by Congress last November, and included $5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations.
Luke Reiner, the director of WYDOT, said that the reason for the exceptions is because of how spread out Wyoming is and how few electric cars there are, it doesn't make sense for the state to have as many charging stations as other states.
Of the 11 exceptions that WYDOT requested, FHWA granted three of them and rejected the remaining eight.
Despite that, Reiner said that Wyoming was still approved for the first batch of funding, $4 million, out of the $24 million the state will receive over the next five years, to begin building charging stations.
"For us, I still think it's probably don't think it's a good fit for Wyoming to put those every 50 miles," Reiner said. "So we'll just have to explore a little bit what they're thinking and then go from there. The way it works is, this is a five-year plan, and the money's available for us to spend it. It's about $24 million for us, and it comes to us in chunks every year for five years. And so what we have is the authority to spend the fiscal year 22 funds, which is about $4 million to get going on this project. So we have money and authority to start the process, so we'll start down that road...There is no immediate impact. The long-term impact means we might have to modify the plan."
WYDOT will also be hiring a private consultant, using the money provided by the federal government, because there aren't people in WYDOT that have the experience needed to set up charging stations.
Reiner said that they anticipate each charging station will cost around a million per station and that they hope to begin construction on four of the charging stations "no earlier than next fall."
Reiner said that the biggest unknown going forward is possible supply chain issues with Wyoming getting charging stations, as every other state is also trying to get them.
"Right now, the big unknown is supply chain and these chargers," Reiner said. "There's 52 states and territories that are going to spend billions with a b on chargers. And we'll be in the line with everybody else and we'd sure like a charger. So we'll just see how long that takes."
While they haven't gotten the chance to talk with anyone in the federal government about the exceptions being denied, they hope to speak with someone in the coming months.
Reiner said it's important for them to build the charging stations, not so much for people driving electric vehicles in the state, but for tourists coming from out of state.
"Our focus on this entire plan is to support tourists with electric vehicles. Our goal, which is really important to reiterate, is to support tourist traffic to our tourist attractions...We continue to think this is important to support our state's second largest industry, which is tourism. And we know that electric tourists with electric vehicles will be visiting Wyoming, and that's our task and purpose here is to support that traffic and industry which is so important to the economy in our state."