Lawmakers Want Data to Decide the Future of America’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

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New legislation would launch a $10 million grant program to set the scene for what’s to come on the EV-use landscape.

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House would form an Energy Secretary-led, $10 million grant program to support local governments, electric utility companies, universities and others in pinpointing the most sensible locations for future electric vehicle charging stations.

Electric vehicles, or EVs, are emerging as an increasingly trusted, eco-friendly driving alternative to gas-powered cars—but their widespread adoption is limited by users’ accessibility to battery-charging stations, which exist mostly along major highways or in urban areas.   

The Electric Vehicle Mobility Area Planning, or EV MAP, Act intends to help change that by prompting new data insights and analyses on current and coming EV use. 

Reps. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, co-sponsored the bill. It was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce the day it was put forward.

“The EV MAP Act addresses one of the most pressing issues EV owners have—range anxiety,” Burgess said in a statement, referring to drivers’ fear that their vehicles will run out of power before reaching charging points or their ultimate destinations. It’s considered one crucial barrier to the ubiquitous use of next-gen vehicles. 

O’Halleran added that as America’s transportation sector evolves, “we must ensure that long-overlooked areas and rural districts...are not left behind.”

If passed, the bill would provide individual eligible entities—or teams of them—with financial backing to help inform and steer future investments for EV charging stations and determine where the power-up portals will be most essential to meet present and forthcoming needs of the driver base. 

Using data on travel patterns and regional commutes, those selected would assess locations of EV owners in their specific areas right now and during the half-decade following receipt of the grant, and produce a map “identifying concentrations of electric vehicle charging stations to meet the needs of current and future of electric vehicle drivers” in the area. They’d also estimate electricity usage and how commuting patterns will evolve in the coming years. 

Those involved would further map out where charging stations will be needed to advance overall adoption, and develop a tool that any city, county or local agency could use “to compare and evaluate different adoption and use scenarios for electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.”

Several energy- and climate-focused organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund and Edison Electric Institute and others, voiced support for the legislation.

“The EV MAP Act would support a data-driven analysis of where electric vehicle charging stations should be located based on where they will be most needed and most useful,” Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Executive Director Heather Reams said. “This will empower investors and private sector companies to confidently build out this infrastructure in an informed manner and open up more transportation choices for all Americans without adding to the taxpayer’s burden.”

Brandi Vincent is a staff correspondent at Nextgov.

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