Federal Funding for EV Infrastructure Spreads to Communities

By · September 09, 2011

Blink Charging Station title="Blink Charging Station" />

An early criticism of the federal government’s investment in electric car infrastructure was that it focused too narrowly on a few locations. But yesterday the US Department of Energy announced 16 projects to support EV adoption in 24 states and the District of Columbia—in an effort to encourage adoption more broadly across the United States.

The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Initiative Awards, totaling $8.5 million, were provided to communities ranging in experience—from those with extensive electric car charging plans in the works, to those just getting started.

With these funds, one-year projects will help communities address specific needs, such as updating permitting processes, revising codes, training municipal personnel, promoting public awareness, and developing incentives. Community-specific plans will be created and be made publicly available, allowing all stakeholders to learn best practices.

  • California's South Coast Air Quality Management District was awarded $1 million to create a unified statewide approach to planning and implementation of plug-in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority was granted $994,500 to develop a plan for a network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
  • In Texas, $1 million will be spent to develop a plan for plug-in electric vehicle charging infrastructure for the Texas Triangle cities of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston/Galveston, and Austin/San Antonio. Additional planning work is being conducted in Houston and Austin.
  • EV readiness and deployment strategies will also be created for Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Each of the Clean Cities approved projects will receive at least $300,000.

These latest grants are dwarfed by the D.O.E.’s $114.8 million of funding for The EV Project, designed to deploy and evaluate private and public charging in California, Oregon, Washington Arizona, Tennessee and Texas. Those funds were made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and were matched by another $115 million in private investment.

The funding was in line with the Obama administration's larger goal of stimulating green jobs-creating infrastructure development, but like some other projects, it's been slow to get off the ground. The EV Project has come under fire in states like Oregon, where it installed its first charger in June—despite having initially promised 1100 chargers by that time. According to Ecotality, the problem with the planned timetable for the EV Project was that it outstripped actual electric vehicle deliveries.

One of the benefits of the Clean Cities Initiative's community-specific funding model is that money (and chargers) can go where they're needed, when they're needed—without the risk of overbuilding some areas at the expense of others in an attempt to meet deadlines.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.