BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — Idaho Transportation Department managers are looking for Idahoans’ suggestions on how they should roll out an initiative that is designed to create a network of electric vehicle charging stations situated along interstates.
Under the National Electric Vehicle Investment, or NEVI, program, Idaho is due to receive about $28 million in federal funding over five years through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is sometimes called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that President Joe Biden signed in November 2021. The goal is to create a network of charging stations situated every 50 miles along the interstate.
Idaho Transportation Department managers have spent the last several weeks gathering public suggestions and feedback at a series of meetings across the state. There is one additional online, Zoom-based public comment hearing set for 11 a.m. Wednesday. Anyone interested in participating and sharing feedback may register for the meeting in advance online. There is also an online survey that Idahoans can complete about electrical vehicles and highway usage and preferences for charging stations.
So far, public comment has been supportive of adding additional electric vehicle charging stations in Idaho, ITD senior public information officer Aubrie Spence told the Idaho Capital Sun. People who have provided feedback are looking for convenience of the stations and ease of access, while some asked about location, cost and time for usage.
Transportation managers will compile public feedback in Idaho and deliver a baseline plan for the Gem State to the Federal Highway Administration by Aug. 1.
“In essence, we want to know what’s important to Idahoans with the future infrastructure of electric vehicles,” Spence said.
The state plans are due to be reviewed and approved by Sept. 30, Spence said. After that, Idaho Transportation Department officials will spend the fall developing a feasibility and access study.
Once built and operational, an interconnected network of charging stations situated every 50 miles of interstate will make it more practical to use an electric vehicle for road trips across Idaho, a rural and mountainous state that has a small number of population centers dispersed among small towns, farmland, forests and lonesome stretches of interstate. The remoteness and size of Idaho also represent challenges for developing and rolling out the network of charging stations, Spence said. The stations can be built on public or private property, but not within the interstate right of way.
When developing Idaho’s plan, transportation managers take into account amenities such as lighting, Americans with Disabilities Act access, restrooms, food and drink availability and 24 hour access, Spence said.
“Deployment across Idaho must overcome challenges of distance, available electrical service and private partners willing to move into a developing market,” Spence said. “This nationwide effort will take many years to begin to provide sufficient service for long-distance travelers.”
The plan is for each charging station to have four plugs at 150 kilowatts each. Charging stations typically bill users by kilowatt hours or the time connected to a charger, Spence said.
New electric vehicle charging stations could be rolling out in Idaho by late 2023. The National Electric Vehicle Investment program is a multi-year project that provides funding for the years 2022 to 2026, so it may take several years for all of the charging stations to be built and operational.