Three different Idaho state agencies are moving forward with the second phase of a long-term project to create a network of electric vehicle charging stations situated every 50 miles on or near major Idaho highways.
Over five years, Idaho will receive about $29 million in federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, sometimes called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that President Joe Biden signed in 2021.
Idaho is not contributing state funding to the program.
The charging program is being developed during a time of rising demand from the public. Since 2020, there has been a 269% increase in electric vehicle and hybrid ownership in Idaho, said Scott Luekenga, an Idaho Transportation Department program manager, citing ITD research based on vehicle registrations.
“Public input, first and foremost, will inform the state on the need for a charging infrastructure and most of all where that charging infrastructure needs to go,” Luekenga said.
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Idaho’s direct current fast charging station program is part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, which is commonly referred to as NEVI.
For Idaho’s project, employees from the Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources, Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality teamed up to create an interagency working group to lead the NEVI program.
Luekenga said it could be five to 10 years before the project is complete and all the charging stations are constructed and operational. But once the universal charging stations are up and running, it could be a game-changer for electric vehicle drivers in Idaho.
One requirement of the program is that the charging stations must be built along designated corridors, including nearly all of the major state highways and interstate highways in Idaho, program officials said.
“That allows electric vehicle drivers the opportunity, or places, to charge their vehicles in a connected manner along those ‘alternative fuel corridors,’ west to east and south to north,” Luekenga said in a telephone interview. “This will provide them the opportunity to charge their vehicle outside of their home or local area, targeting the ability to move longer distances and maintain the availability of their vehicles.”
Idahoans ‘will help us identify’ where EV charging stations go
Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy and Federal Highway Administration approved Idaho’s initial plan for the program, Office of Energy and Mineral Resources Administrator Richard Stover said in a telephone interview. That opened up the federal funding and allowed Idaho’s interagency working group to move forward with the second phase of the project.
The second phase includes a study to gather more data about the needs and feasibility of charging stations, accept more public comment and start identifying a tiered system of locations for the charging infrastructure.
“There are numerous alternative fuel corridors and the purpose of study is to inform the state of Idaho and the agency working on the project, and the public will help us identify priorities for where we deploy the charging infrastructure,” Stover said.
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Stover said public meetings will be conducted across the state beginning next month, with dates and locations to be announced soon. In the meantime, anyone may send an email to [email protected] to subscribe to get emailed updates on the project.
State officials plan to finish the study this fall and submit another updated plan to the federal agencies based on the study, Stover said. Idaho officials expect that to include some details on the first two electric vehicle charging stations to be pilot-tested for Idaho’s program.
The state of Idaho will not own or operate the charging stations. The federal funding will cover 80% of a charging station’s cost, while private owners of the charging stations will kick in the remaining 20%, Stover said. The owners of the charging stations have yet to be identified, but Idahoans and Idaho businesses can choose to become owners.
The charging stations must be in a location that provides 24-hour access, complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is within a mile of the highway or interstate.