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Hundreds Of New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations To Be Installed In Arkansas

An electric vehicle charging station in Jacksonville, Florida. Arkansas will be launching a program next month that will lead to more than 200 charging stations being placed around the state.
Bill Bortzfield

Arkansas is launching two programs that will expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. $2 million from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund is going toward providing more than 200 charging stations.

Becky Keogh, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, says the grant will pay for infrastructure and incentivize private and public investments to leverage their funds.

“As we look at commercial transportation, Arkansas is a key corridor for the U.S. as we transport goods across our country,” Keogh said. “It’s going to be imperative that Arkansas stay up to speed and, in fact, advance to be able to continue to be such a leader in the transportation sector and what we can provide as a state.”

Keogh says many hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations are looking for electric vehicle infrastructure to meet consumer needs. The programs will provide market-based incentives that can be advertised to increase engagement with the public.

“Arkansas is working jointly with our sister states or joining states to make sure that our networks are integrated, that Arkansas can basically expand and benefit from those investments that Tennessee or Oklahoma have made,” Keogh said. "And they’ve made significant investments in their own infrastructure.”

The Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment program will charge electric cars in eight hours or less and provide rebates for Level 2 vehicles. This program launches Feb. 1. More information on the second program will be announced later in the year.

Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas Sierra Club, says having an infrastructure for electric vehicles in the state is significant and long overdue. But he says removing legislative barriers such as increased registration fees will improve the programs.

“In the last legislative session, the legislature started to raise electric vehicle and hybrid registration fees to the point now where you have to pay an extra $200 a year to register your electric vehicle and an extra $100 a year to register your hybrid vehicle,” Hooks said. “That’s discouraging to this kind of electric vehicle and hybrid rollout.”

There are bills pending in the current legislative session that he says would reduce or repeal the additional fees.

The programs come four years after a settlement with Volkswagen. In June 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a civil complaint against the automaker claiming it cheated on emissions testing by installing software in 2.0-liter diesel engines.

Although it resulted in better driving performance, tons of nitrogen oxide emissions were released which were above regulated limits. Volkswagen agreed to pay billions of dollars to all 50 states directed toward vehicle electrification.

Keogh says the electric charging stations will help protect the environment by reducing vehicle emissions, which she says was the intent of the Volkswagen Settlement.

Alexandria Brown is a news anchor and reporter for KUAR News. She was previously a Douthit scholar who interned for KUAR News. Alexandria will graduate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2022 in hopes of being a multimedia reporter.
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