Western Governors Envision Electric Vehicle Corridor

By Brenna Goth

Governors in seven Western states hope to coordinate an electric vehicle charging network that connects their major thoroughfares—and possibly boosts some the presence of some states in the electric vehicle industry.

Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming signed on to a plan to create the “Intermountain West Electric Vehicle Corridor” across more than 5,000 miles of highway, the states announced in a joint release Oct. 4. The plan aims to relieve electric vehicle “range anxiety”—a concern about the distance between charging stations— for drivers along about a dozen interstate highways.

The memorandum of understanding, unveiled at a National Governors Association energy summit in Denver, isn’t a binding agreement. It outlines intentions, without a cost estimate or full scope of the project.

A group comprised of state leaders will meet quarterly and submit a report looking at the possibilities by April 1, 2018, according to the memorandum.

Range anxiety is a barrier for consumers in the electric vehicle market, said Katherine Stainken, policy director for Plug In America, told Bloomberg BNA. The nonprofit organization advocates for the use of electric vehicles.

“Having this infrastructure across those states would be phenomenal,” she said.

Standard Charging Stations

The collaboration aims to build infrastructure that will promote electric vehicles and drive tourism, state leaders said.

The states will start exploring how to coordinate charging station locations to maximize the use of electric vehicles. The coalition also will consider including charging stations in building codes and other development policies and setting voluntary minimum standards to regulate station administration and management.

Manufacturers might be tapped to stock electric vehicles in the states.

The extent of public-private partnerships will determine the cost of the initiative to states such as Colorado, according to the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). It would take about 50 to 60 fast charging stations to electrify Colorado’s key highways, a representative in the governor’s office told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 4.

Colorado has proposed paying for charging corridors with about $10 million from the state’s portion of an October 2016 Volkswagen mitigation settlement addressing allegations the company violated the federal Clean Air Act. The state was expected to receive $68.7 million from the fund, which it announced in August would be used to fund projects to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in the transportation sector.

The state also could use some of its federal funding and leverage private investment, a representative of the governor’s office said.

Some of the signatory states already are trying to find a place in the electric vehicle industry.

Nevada, for example, approved $1.3 billion in incentives for Tesla to build a “gigafactory” in the state. New Mexico has started equipping state-owned buildings with charging stations, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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