No app sign-ups, More DC fast charging: White House’s new EV charging rules

The new standards provide states guidelines on awarding contracts for EV charging projects, leading the companies who get them to build suitable, affordable, and accessible chargers to the broadest number of individuals.

And they summarize the types of projects that won’t accept federal money, including proprietary charging places that can only be accessed by one business’s automobiles, such as Tesla’s Supercharger network.

The new measures come as much of President Joe Biden’s climate shift fighting agenda remains stalled in Congress. The president guaranteed $5 billion in funding as part of his infrastructure plan signed into law late last year. But other features of his plan, including more lucrative tax breaks for EV buyers, lack a clear path forward.

“Everyone should be able to locate a working charging station when and where they require it,” Pete Buttigieg said. The Biden administration is announcing a new set of standards to accelerate building 500,000 electric vehicle chargers across the US by 2030.

The administration announced that it would direct the $5 billion to states to build this network of EV charging posts along designated “Alternative Fuel Corridors,” described as approximately 165,722 miles of the National Highway System surrounding 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Under the plan, anointed the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, states must submit their recommendations by August 1st to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. The Federal Highway Administration will endorse eligible plans by September 30th, with $615 million being made available in the fiscal year 2022.

The current charging venture in the US is intensely fragmented, specifically for people who don’t own a Tesla. There are roughly 41,000 public charging stations in the United States, with more than 100,000 outlets. But discovering one that works or isn’t sealed inside a gated parking garage can be a bit of a scavenger search.

As the money begins to roll out, the White House said it wants to ensure that Americans aren’t getting more of the same — a fragmented network with chargers that are often broken or hard to find.

“Everyone should be able to find a functioning charging station when and where they need it, without bothering about paying more or getting more destructive service because of where they live,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “You shouldn’t have to sort through half-a-dozen apps on your phone to be able to deliver at a charging station. And no issue where you live or where you’re steered, everyone should be able to count on fast charging, fair pricing, and easy-to-use payment for their EVs.”

Under the new standards, EV charging stations would be built every 50 miles along major highways and no more than 1 mile off those corridors. In addition, they direct states to ensure that EV charging stations are built in less dense parts of the country, like rural and tribal communities.

They require EV charging companies to provide customers with real-time information, so they can tell when a charging station is occupied or broken. And they need at least four 150kW DC fast charging ports per station — which would go a long way toward addressing the concerns of people who worry about the utility of electric vehicles on road trips or other long journeys.

The standards would also prohibit EV charging companies receiving federal funding from requiring drivers to sign up for memberships to access stations. And they would direct companies to install charging ports that the broadest number of vehicle owners can use. (Some EV makers, including Tesla and Rivian, are building out their EV charging network with proprietary plugs, meaning they can only be accessed by their customers — though that may be changing.)

Buttigieg intends to send “a market signal toward a standard charging port for stations to accommodate the widest possible set of vehicles, and accommodate adapters for all vehicles.”

The administration is also working on additional plans for residential incentives, where most EV owners will do their charging, and for those vehicle owners who live in multi-unit dwellings and apartment buildings. An “EV working group” will make recommendations to the Department of Energy, putting those plans into motion.

“If we’re going to build out infrastructure like we haven’t done since the Eisenhower era, we have to build it right,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.