Funding for local electric vehicle charging stations coming soon, WYDOT says

Wyoming’s approved electric vehicle infrastructure plan focuses on interstate highways for now, but state officials say there are other funding options available for local business owners looking to install their own charging stations.

Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, asked about the local funding options during a Joint Appropriations Committee meeting this week, citing comments from some of his constituents.

“Folks up in Fremont County are interested in getting charging stations,” Larsen said, addressing Wyoming Department of Transportation director Luke Reiner. “Is there a grant program (or) a loan program out there through WYDOT … to guide them in a process there, or is that someplace else?

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Volkswagen settlement

Funding from the state’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program “cannot get up to Fremont County yet because that has to be used on the (interstate) corridors,” Reiner said, but there are “two sources (of) available funding for local communities off-corridor.”

The first comes from the national Volkswagen settlement, which included $1.2 million for Wyoming, according to WYDOT.

The state’s Zero Emission Vehicle Working Group will “release” that settlement money when Wyoming publishes its request for proposals for the interstate stations this spring, Reiner said.

Each settlement grant will provide up to a 50-50 match for off-corridor infrastructure that will “supplement” the interstate stations with “more charging options, including lower-level charging stations, which take longer to charge a vehicle than a level 3 charging station,” WYDOT says.

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Federal funding

The other source of funding for local charging stations comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which “created direct-to-user grants not managed by federal or state agencies,” according to WYDOT.

Those grants are meant to be used “off-corridor” as well, Reiner said, but other “details” about the program “have not been released” yet.

“As soon as we have that information, we’ll push it out,” he said, agreeing with Larsen that “there is a lot of interest” statewide about the process of pursuing electric vehicle infrastructure grants.

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50-mile exceptions

WYDOT continues to negotiate with the federal government about the national requirement that electric vehicle charging stations be placed at 50-mile intervals, Reiner said.

Wyoming submitted 11 exceptions to that rule, but Reiner said only three were approved.

“At this point we’re at an impasse on that,” he told the JAC. “I’m not sure where it will go, but our counsel to ourselves has been, hey, we’ve got authority to spend two years’ worth of money – so that’s basically $10 million, (or) $5 million a year – and we’ll put in the first seven stations, which we agree on.”

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WYDOT has already started discussing the “next phase” of Wyoming’s electric vehicle infrastructure project with federal officials, he added, with the goal of gaining approval for “smaller stations” to be installed in the state.

“It just doesn’t make sense (otherwise),” he said. “The return on investment is so bad.”

A four-vehicle charging station costs $1 million to install, Reiner explained, meaning “some Wyoming business has to cough up” a $200,000 grant match for each project.

The return on that investment is “just not there … based on the number of electric vehicles on the road,” he said, estimating that 600 electric vehicles are currently registered in Wyoming.

“We’ve been pretty adamant that we didn’t think that was right to the Wyoming constituency to do that,” Reiner said. “So … on that one I think we’re just sort of keeping our powder dry, and we’ll see where it goes.”

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