Just 1 EV Charger Built So Far From Biden's $7.5 Billion Pledge to Rapidly Expand Charging Infrastructure
Just 1 EV Charger Built So Far From Biden's $7.5 Billion Pledge to Rapidly Expand Charging Infrastructure

By Tom Ozimek

So far, just one electric vehicle (EV) charger has been built under a $7.5 billion program introduced by President Joe Biden’s 2021 infrastructure bill that aims to dramatically expand the nation’s EV charging infrastructure.

The White House said Monday that the nation’s first EV charging station funded by the $7.5 billion program has been officially launched and is operating in Ohio, as the Biden administration aims to grow the nationwide network of public EV chargers to 1.2 million by 2030.

“Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Maine have broken ground on new stations, and additional activity is expected in several other states in the coming weeks,” Heather Boushey, chief economist at the Investing in America Cabinet, wrote in a White House blog post.

This summer, President Biden announced the formation of the Investing in America Cabinet, which is focused on domestic investment and implementation of the infrastructure and green energy laws he signed during his first two years in office.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Democrat, said on Dec. 8 that the first-in-the-nation EV charger funded through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program (which is part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) was now online in his state.

“America’s first new charging station puts us one step closer to making travel easier for EV drivers,” Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks said in a statement.

EV sales in the United States hit a record 313,086 in the third quarter of 2023. However, many carmakers are sounding the alarm, saying that demand isn’t keeping up with expectations, forcing them to scale back some EV expansion plans.

A key factor holding back widespread EV adoption is so-called “range anxiety,” which is the fear among drivers that their EV will run out of power and grind to a halt on the side of the road with no charger in sight.

In order to alleviate drivers’ range anxiety and support EV demand, a recent study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimated that the size of the national charging network needs to grow from roughly 3.1 million ports in 2022 to 28 million by 2030, with the vast majority being private chargers.

Currently, there are around 60,000 public chargers (with nearly 160,000 charging ports) in the country, according to the Energy Department, with the NREL study estimating that this figure needs to rise to a total of 1.2 million by 2030 to support roughly 33 million light-duty plug-in EVs.

Including the $7.5 billion in taxpayer dollars from the infrastructure bill, the total cumulative investment in publicly accessible charging infrastructure through 2030 is estimated to require an investment of between $31 billion–$55 billion.

When including the private network, that cumulative national investment estimate increases to $53 billion–$127 billion, with 52 percent of the cost being private chargers, 39 percent being public DC fast chargers, and 9 percent public L2 chargers, per the NREL study.

An initial wave of 26 states are leading the effort to build out the public EV charger network, according to a recent update from the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which is leading the Biden administration’s EV charger efforts.

As of Oct. 18, seven states had issued over $100 million in conditional awards for new NEVI stations, two states had agreements in place, and 17 states were soliciting proposals for new stations.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, a key figure helping President Biden push EVs onto a reluctant public, recently said that not only were there not enough chargers to satisfy demand but many existing ones don’t work.

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His admission came as the federal agency he helms announced $100 million in funding for repairing and replacing existing EV charging stations.

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