DOT, Energy Release Rules for National EV Charging Program

DOT, Energy Release Rules for National EV Charging Program

February 11, 2022  | Jeff Davis

Yesterday, the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy released their initial guidance and rules for the $4.2 billion in formula funding to be distributed to states for construction of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

“A century ago, America ushered in the modern automotive era; now America must lead the electric vehicle revolution,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help us win the EV race by working with states, labor, and the private sector to deploy a historic nationwide charging network that will make EV charging accessible for more Americans.”

“We are modernizing America’s national highway system for drivers in cities large and small, towns and rural communities, to take advantage of the benefits of driving electric,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping states to make electric vehicle charging more accessible by building the necessary infrastructure for drivers across America to save money and go the distance, from coast-to-coast.”

The five-year total funding amounts to be distributed to each state (20 percent per year over five years) is given here, but the numbers haven’t changed a dollar since the preliminary estimates were provided to Congress last summer, which we printed at the time. The total is $4.155 billion in formula money (an average of $831 million per year), but the first year’s funding is only $615 million because of a one-time $300 million set-aside to establish a joint office between DOT and DOE to run the program.

FY 2022 FY 2023 FY 2024 FY 2025 FY 2026 TOTAL
Total Appropriation $1,000.0 $1,000.0 $1,000.0 $1,000.0 $1,000.0 $5,000.0
Minus One-Time DOT-DOE Office Setup -$300.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 -$300.0
Minus 1.5 Percent Oversight Set-Aside -$15.0 -$15.0 -$15.0 -$15.0 -$15.0 -$75.0
Minus 10 Percent Discretionary Set-Aside -$70.0 -$100.0 -$100.0 -$100.0 -$100.0 -$470.0
Remaining Amount By Formula $615.0 $885.0 $885.0 $885.0 $885.0 $4,155.0

In addition to the funding notice, DOT and DOE put out a 31-page guidance document with preliminary rules for the NEVI (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure) program. Yesterday’s preliminary guidance is only the first step of several required by the statute:

  • February 10, 2022 – FHWA meets the IIJA’s 90-day deadline for publishing initial guidance and notifying states of their financial allocations.
  • May 13, 2022 – FHWA publishes proposed regulations and minimum standards for the NEVI program as a more formula, APA-compliant document. This regulation must set criteria for state EV infrastructure deployment plans.
  • August 1, 2022 – Deadline for each state (and D.C. and Puerto Rico) to submit their proposed EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan to the new Joint Office of Energy and Transportation explaining how they intend to spend their share of the $4.155 billion in in accordance with the May 13 guidance.
  • September 30, 2022 – Deadline for the Joint Office to notify states whether or not their plans are adequate. If they are, the states can start spending their FY 2022 money and the FY 2023 money that should be apportioned to them the following day. If not, the state has to do more back-and-forth with the Joint Office to get an approved plan.

The preliminary guidance document lists a lot of rules from the statute, most notably this one: states are not free to put EV charging stations wherever they want. The NEVI program works in conjunction with a pre-existing FHWA program that designates Alternative Fuel Corridors. (A theory holds that the #1 thing holding back widespread EV adoption is range anxiety on longer trips, so the initial focus of federal aid was putting EV chargers along the corridors that drivers use for those long trips. The focus of the program is not neighborhood charging stations.) The guidance document quotes the IIJA that “Any EV charging infrastructure acquired or installed with NEVI Formula Program funds shall be located along a designated Alternative Fuel Corridor.”

Per the FAST Act of 2015, state and local governments nominate these corridors for FWHA approval. There have already been five annual rounds of nominations and additions, and FHWA announced Round 6 in conjunction with yesterday’s announcement. A list of all designated corridors is here and some nice GIS applications are here. The corridors are Interstates and major U.S. or state routes (again, the point is to put chargers on the roads that people who are thinking about buying an EV would use on a road trip where they might have to recharge.)

The IIJA does provide that, if a state has fully built out its designated corridors, the state can then use NEVI money to build charging infrastructure on any public road or other convenient location, and defines “fully built out” as having at least one 600 kW station every 50 miles along the corridor (always within one travel mile of the corridor), and each station having at least four 150 kW fast DC charging ports.

The IIJA took $300 million off the top of the first year’s appropriation for the program to establish that Joint Office, whose website is now up at driveelectric.gov and the site now has a suite of technical assistance resources that states can use when assembling their plans.

The IIJA requires that $470 million over five years be withheld from the formula money to fund competitive grants. This will be supplemented if any state forfeits its formula money by failing to submit a plan consistent with the guidance by the deadline or failing to take action to carry out its plan (as determined by FHWA). Information on the competitive grants will be released at a later time.

Because NEVI funding comes from the general fund of the Treasury and not the Highway Trust Fund, states cannot transfer any of their NEVI funding to other highway formula programs. They can, however, combine NEVI funding with some of their other formula funding for NEVI-eligible uses.

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