Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a request for proposals to "deploy an interconnected and
statewide public electric vehicle charging network," with plans to pay for it from funds Virginia will receive from an environmental mitigation trust that automaker Volkswagen set up after its diesel emissions cheating scandal.
The RFP is part of the governor's earlier and broader electric vehicle initiative that aims to drive infrastructure investments, since the state projects that it could have about 1 million such vehicles by 2027. Responses to the RFP are due by 2:00 p.m. (eastern) on Nov. 6.
And the RFP noted that Virginia expects this can help make its air cleaner. "The transportation sector is the largest contributor to nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions in Virginia," it said, with some heavily congested areas – northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, Hampton Roads and the Richmond-Petersburg corridor – having historically had difficulty meeting federal ozone standards.
Virginia is also a key part of the mid-Atlantic travel corridor connecting states in the Northeast and South. So besides needing more charging stations for its own residents, building out an EV network across Virginia would support pass-through EV motorists as well.
Earlier, Virginia nominated several of its major highways for national designation as alternative fuel corridors. In 2016 the Federal Highway Administration designated Interstate 95, I-81, I-64, I-66, and I-85 as EV corridors, indicating they would be priority areas for EV charging stations investments.
Meanwhile, the VW funds are starting to kick in to support such investments. (See
related story in Nation section.)
To settle charges for using emission test "defeat devices" for various diesel-powered vehicles, VW through a series of consent decrees agreed to set up a nationwide mitigation trust of nearly $3 billion, with specified amounts apportioned to states based on their share of related vehicles. States and tribes can use that money for eligible emission-reduction projects including replacements or retrofits of government fleet vehicles, transit rolling stock, freight trucks, port equipment and more.
VW also agreed to separately invest $2 billion over 10 years through a zero-emissions program to help build electric charging stations, with $800 million of that to be used in California and the rest spread across other parts of the country.
McAuliffe said Virginia's share of the VW mitigation trust is $93.6 million, of which it can spend up to 15 percent or $14 million to support EV charging stations. It can also pursue funding from the zero-emissions program as it tries to build out a statewide system that deploys more fast charging stations.
The announcement said that "in order to develop a robust network of electric vehicle charging stations along the most-traveled portions of the state, Virginia will designate the full 15 percent . . . for electric vehicle infrastructure."
In the RFP, Virginia said its public network of charging stations now includes 511 of the "Level 2" units – which require hours to charge up an EV – and only 100 of the direct current, fast-charging units that are more expensive to build but are seen as critical to supporting electrics on the nation's highway system.
Those stations, 374 in all, are mainly located in the densely populated northern Virginia area and are primarily single-port chargers, it said, which points to "significant geographic gaps in charging stations and gaps in the diversity of EV charging technology needed to facilitate travel to, through and within Virginia."
Its RFP said Virginia can use the VW funds to cover up to 80 percent of project costs. It wants contractors to "install, own and operate EV charging stations at host sites that are on developed, private property with public access" such as shopping centers, fueling stations, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., and within the priority geographic areas.
"By providing the charging network citizens need to move quickly and at long distances throughout Virginia," McAuliffe said, "we will make certain that electric vehicle travel in the commonwealth is seamless. This infrastructure will also help us to reduce our collective carbon footprint and drive innovation in the new Virginia economy."
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore said: "This targeted and rapid deployment of EV charging stations is designed to jumpstart adoption and generate more private investment in EV technology in Virginia."
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