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Delaware to spend $18 million on EV chargers

Charles MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

EV charger

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Delaware’s transportation department will use federal infrastructure funds to install multi-car electric vehicle chargers along major travel routes throughout the state.

The move comes as part of a national effort to increase access to electric vehicle charging stations, thereby making electric vehicles a more reliable means of transportation.

Delaware Department of Transportation secretary Nicole Majeski said installing charging stations in Delaware and beyond will increase consumer confidence that purchasing an electric vehicle is a practical choice.

“Increased temperatures, sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms and flooding take a toll on our transportation network,” Majeski said. “Accelerating our transition to cleaner transportation is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Critics say this is a matter that should be left to the free market.

Under an initial plan submitted to the federal government, DelDOT and DNREC committed to using $18 million in funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over three distinct phases.

In the first phase, Delaware will locate five new charging stations around the state, meeting a condition of the federal funding that EV charging stations be available at least every 50 miles along major travel routes identified by the federal government. 

Those major routes include Interstate 95, State Route 1, U.S. 13 and U.S. 113. 

Subject to additional data and public input, the general targeted areas are the I-95 Biden Welcome Center near Newark, as well as Dover, Rehoboth Beach, Laurel and Selbyville.

In the second phase, six additional charging stations will be located along the same major corridors, meeting a state goal of every-25-mile availability. 

The general targeted areas for phase two include Middletown, Smyrna, Harrington, Milford, Bridgeville and Georgetown.

The third phase will focus on locating charging stations in high-density residential areas, specifically in areas with multi-family housing or street parking areas without other convenient charging options.

If the plan is approved by the federal government, the operators and exact locations of the EV stations in the general identified areas will be chosen through a competitive process after additional planning and public input. 

EV drivers will have to pay to use the chargers.

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David Stevenson, director of the Caesar Rodney Institute’s Center for Energy Competitiveness, said the installation of EV charging stations should be a matter of supply and demand.

“Just leave it to the free market,” Stevenson said. “It’s working — there is no shortage of public charging stations and the free market is taking care of it, so the government should really stay out of it.”

He said gas stations, shopping centers and other businesses install EV charging stations as a way to drive foot traffic into their businesses, and that’s a good thing. 

Delaware’s existing charging stations operate at a very low utilization rate, he said, and there are more than enough to satisfy demand. 

Nationwide push to expand EV charger access

The initial state plan is part of the National Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure program that aims to place half a million new EV charging stations across the country by 2030, making it easier and more predictable to travel in electric vehicles. 

NEVI includes requirements that the charging stations along major highway corridors be “DC fast chargers” capable of charging at least four vehicles at a time, operate 24 hours a day, and use common payment platforms.

“Tailpipe emissions from our vehicles are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions both here in Delaware and across the country,” said DNREC secretary Shawn Garvin. “The federal funding made available through the NEVI program accelerates our efforts in Delaware to not just reduce transportation emissions, but improve air quality in our communities, improve public health and expand transportation choices.”

The submitted NEVI plan and other information about creating support for EVs in Delaware can be found here.

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