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ArDOT wants feedback on proposed electric vehicle charging network

Michael Hibblen
An electric vehicle charging station along Interstate 30 in Texarkana, Texas near the Arkansas border on June 20, 2021.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), in collaboration with the Department of Energy and Environment, is working on a draft plan to install electric vehicle charging stations across the state.

Comments on the plan will be accepted through Tuesday. The final plan will be submitted to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation by Aug. 1, according to a news release.

The draft Arkansas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan shows the proposed locations for new charging stations throughout Arkansas. Money to install the stations will come from the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In February, the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy announced nearly $5 billion will be used to build a national electric vehicle charging network and that Arkansas is eligible to receive up to $54.12 million over five years for its network. The state’s draft plan shows Arkansas would receive $8 million of the funding in 2022.

The federal infrastructure law established the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, which is expected to help states create a network of electric vehicle charging stations along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors, particularly along interstates. States are required to submit plans before they can receive the money.

Arkansas’ draft plan shows it would need to install 15 electric vehicle charging stations to meet the minimum requirements for the NEVI program. It requires a station every 50 miles along interstates and Alternative Fuel Corridors.

According to the draft plan, Arkansas would need more than $61.15 million to meet the program requirements. ArDOT expects 20% in non-federal matching funds would be provided by the charging station owners. ArDOT would retain 7% of NEVI program funds to administer the program each year.

The proposed stations would be built along interstates, except for one on U.S. Highway 412 near the Oklahoma border. The draft plan shows Highway 412, between Interstate 49 and Oklahoma border, is a nominated Alternative Fuel Corridor. Interstates 30, 40 and 49 comprise the existing Alternative Fuel Corridors.

According to the draft plan, the remaining 14 stations would be built along I-49, north of Interstate 40; I-40, Interstate 540 near Fort Smith, and I-49 south of Fort Smith; I-49 and Interstate 30 near Texarkana; I-30, southwest of Little Rock (2); I-40, northwest of Little Rock (2); Interstate 530, south of Little Rock to Pine Bluff; I-40, east of Little Rock (2); I-40, near West Memphis; I-55, from I-40 to the Missouri border (2); and Interstate 555 from I-55 to Jonesboro.

Also, the plan shows six existing charging stations would be eligible for upgrades with NEVI program money. Five are Tesla charging stations, and one is a ChargePoint station. Two are in Little Rock, and the others are in Lowell, Ozark, Brinkley and Van Buren.

Arkansas has 172 public charging stations, which include 417 AC level 2 ports and 72 DC fast-charging ports. Of those stations, only five meet the NEVI program standards. This includes having at least four ports each capable of 150 kilowatts of continuous power and being located within one mile of an interstate interchange. These five Electrify America stations are in Rogers, Clarksville, Forrest City, Little Rock and Hope.

In the first five months of 2022, the number of registered electric vehicles in Arkansas rose by 43%, compared to the end of 2021, according to the draft plan. As of June 1, Arkansas has 2,997 electric vehicles registered, comprising about 0.3% of all vehicles in the state. More than half are vehicles registered in three counties. Benton County has 660 electric vehicles, Pulaski County has 640 and Washington County has more than 440. The number of electric vehicles registered includes plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

This story comes from the staff of Talk Business & Politics, a content partner with KUAR News. You can hear the weekly program on Mondays at 6:06 p.m.