Arizona to set up electric vehicle charger network with federal infrastructure funds
The state of Arizona unveiled plans for the first stages of its electric vehicle infrastructure plan, which is set to bring roughly 30 charging stations to the state’s interstates in the coming years.
A public meeting Thursday night allowed Arizonans to inquire about the state’s five-year plan to create a network of charging stations along major roadways, with the project set to begin next year. The Arizona Department of Transportation is leading the multi-million dollar effort to support EVs in the Grand Canyon State following passage of the federal infrastructure bill late last year.
The state’s project falls under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which is providing incentives for renewable energy-powered transit across the country.
“The goal is to build out a national network of EV chargers in order to reduce range anxiety and foster increased EV adoption,” said Thor Anderson, a project manager with ADOT.
NEVI will provide states with $5 billion to build electric vehicle chargers. Under the program, Arizona will receive $76.5 million over five years to construct these chargers along “alternative fuel corridors.”
These corridors will include Interstate 40 in northern Arizona, I-17 in central Arizona, Southern Arizona’s I-10 and I-8 in southwestern Arizona. Interstate 19 north of Nogales has also been designated as one of the corridors.
The program requires a charging station every 50 miles of interstate with at least four 150 kw chargers at each location, officials said. The chargers must be level three, meaning vehicles can reach an 80% charge in about 30 minutes.
Thirteen of the existing charging stations along the selected corridors meet DEVI parameters, said Brendan Connelly, who’s with the engineering company AECOM. Approximately 17 more stations will need to be built or upgraded to meet the program’s requirements.
The cost to build one of the stations is estimated to be as much as $700,000, according to Daina Mann, an ADOT spokesperson. Tesla may build new stations that comply with NEVI, Anderson said. However, the company has yet to commit to upgrading its existing systems in the state.
Another federal requirement is that stations will use CCS charger connectors, which differ from some existing connectors used to charge cars like Teslas. But the well-known electric car brand would not be excluded from the charging stations, Connelly said.
“Tesla chargers are currently only accessible to Tesla users, but there are adapter types that can allow Tesla users to connect to CCS ports,” he said.
While the stations will be accessible to many EV owners, the cost to use these stations remains unclear. “We’re going to have to work that out in our contracts that we develop,” Anderson said. “And that’s one of the details that we will work out after August 1.”
The department is seeking out private owners for the charging stations, who could receive as much as five years of funding for maintenance and day to day operations, Anderson said. Several residents in attendance were concerned with the security of the privately owned stations like Russell McCloud.
“What’s the plan for after the fact?” he asked. “How do you keep thieves from stealing cables to obtain the copper? How do you plan to monitor every station after it's built?”
There will be a focus on reliable vendors who have agreements with manufacturers to help replace parts when ADOT contracts the stations out, Anderson said. The department’s goal is for a system with 97% reliability, he said.
ADOT is examining additional roadways for charging stations. The state could have anywhere from 70 to 130 eligible charging stations built when the project is completed, Anderson said.
“It would be based on need because we’re trying to close gaps in the system, so that we can increase people’s ability to travel from one place to the other, and we want to do that on as many roads as we can in Arizona,” he said.
In order to qualify for the federal funds state officials need to submit a rough draft of the charging station plan by August 1. The United States’ Joint Office of Energy and Transportation has until September 30 to approve the proposal before more public outreach will occur.
ADOT has more than 400 stakeholders for the project, Anderson said. A meeting with some of these individuals and groups occurred on June 30.
A final draft of the project will be completed by November 30, with implementation expected to begin in 2023. Input on the initial plan, including suggestions for additional “alternative fuel corridors” can be submitted through July 21 here. Feedback can also be given at 800-915-4301 and AZEVPlan@azdot.gov.