The Saratoga Sun -

WYDOT ready for the future

WYDOT addresses the need for electric vehicle service stations in the State

 

April 14, 2022

Mike Armstrong

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Director Luke Riener came to Rawlins to explain the Wyoming Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Strategy. Reiner stated Wyoming will set the foundation and enable business solutions to ZEV infrastructure development and operation.

"We have been traveling around the state and explaining our ZEV draft strategy," Reiner said. "We have been getting really good ideas from people around the state."

Reiner started by framing the discussion to the audience.

"The world that we know that powers vehicles is changing," Reiner said. "Our task as the department of transportation is to ensure that the infrastructure and the transportation infrastructure that we use, whatever choice of vehicle you decide to drive, that we can support it."

He gave an example of an Iowa tourist who had an electric vehicle (EV) that wanted to go to Yellowstone and should be able to go through Wyoming and charge up in the state.

"We have to support the number two industry of our state, which is tourism," Reiner said. "We have to make sure our infrastructure is ready to support it. That is our goal and big picture item."

He said EV owners were bypassing Wyoming and coming to Yellowstone by Montana if they were coming from the north.

"There is better infrastructure in Montana than there is in Wyoming," Reiner said. "So today you are going to see a draft plan for zero emission."

Reiner said the purpose of this strategy is to ensure Wyoming establishes and effectively communicates the plan to support the development of zero emission vehicle infrastructure to serve the state's residents, businesses, and visitors. The strategic end is Wyoming possesses the infrastructure needed to fully support the movement of all vehicles across state transportation networks while safeguarding the economic security, safety of residents and visitors and health of businesses.

He went over the key definitions.

First was corridors which are designated state alternative fuel corridors of I-80, I-25 and I-90. After the corridors are the routes selected. Routes are iInitial road networks recommended after the corridors are complete. They are chosen as places that could support the infrastructure of the EV. They are Casper to Shoshoni to Jackson / Cody. Rock Springs to Jackson. Buffalo to Cody. Evanston to Jackson. Cheyenne to Torrington to Newcastle to Sundance and Sheridan to Powell to Cody

The stations could have a Level 1 Charger that puts out 120 volts. These are for older EVs and they take about 12 hours to charge. He said there is a Level 2 Charger that puts out a 208/240 volt charge. They charge faster in about half the time. The Level 3 Charger Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) is 480 Volt 3-phase 50 kW – 350 kW. He said the 350 can charge a battery to 80 percent in 15 minutes. It is the charger they are focusing on. He said there could be a future charger they don't have now.

Reiner said policy guidelines became the concern of the draft.

Define the state's role.Develop EV charging infrastructure siting recommendations.Identify funding and optimization opportunities.Identify regulatory policy issues.Identify regulatory policy issues. Explore revenue generation.

He said a guideline would be to consider the following. Electric passenger vehicles; Hydrogen and where does the technology fit in the ZEV future? They should be built in a timely manner. State assets will not be used to install, own or operate ZEV infrastructure. WYDOT's goal is to help those who want to open these service stations. These stations cannot be put at rest stations.

Reiner went over strategic goals.

The first was Wyoming statutes, rules, regulations, and policies supporting cost effective and affordable development, use, and maintenance of ZEV infrastructure.

The second mentioned was Wyoming's ZEV infrastructure keeps pace with changes to technological, regional, business, and personal transportation preferences and demands.

Next was to make sure Wyoming possesses financial programs that incentivize the development, installation, and operation of ZEV infrastructure. After that, Wyoming create and maintain equitable statewide access to ZEV infrastructure. The last goal was to identify and secure future funding to maintain and enhance ZEV infrastructure networks.

Once finished with the goals, Reiner went over different ways of funding possible.

There are three he suggested.

The Volkswagen settlement fund which has $1.2 million currently in it. Discretionary/competitive grants that allow for local governments, nonprofits and other agencies to apply for funding to offset costs of installing public EV charging infrastructure. Potential examples include charging infrastructure within a city, business or other suitable area. These grants are likely to be administered by the Federal Highway Administration directly to the applicant, but WYDOT can help with the application process.

Then there is the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula funding where Wyoming is allocated $3.9 million this year and expects $5 million each year for the next four years for a total of $23.96 million for EV infrastructure. The goal is to create a nationwide electric road network.The point was made again, electrification of our transportation system supports tourism.

The state's role is to ensure the infrastructure exists to support whatever type of vehicle you want to drive, Riener said. The State should function as the pass-through organization for this federal funding.It should also establish a single point of entry and application concept for any funds a state agency will or may manage. It should assist communities in finding available funds to meet community goals.

The idea is private industry will build EV charging corridors and pay the required match which is 80/20. There will be no State funds available.The vendor will determine charger location and design with parameters set forth by the federal government in NEVI guidance. Vendors will set the rates for people to charge vehicles, just as they determine the cost of a gallon of gas. There is no free electricity as a part of this program.

NEVI funding rules say this funding is allocated to EV infrastructure only. If Wyoming doesn't spend this funding, it will be released to other states for EV infrastructure . These funds cannot be spent on road construction or repair. The funding for NEVI did not come from the Highway Trust Fund, it is from the General Fund. This means the money is not harming highway funding and these funds cannot be used for highway maintenance or construction. Federal funding rules do not allow unspent funds to go back to the taxpayer.

The NEVI funding rules state the formula funds must be spent along designated alternative fuel corridors. Charging Stations must be located every 50 miles and stations must be within one mile of the interstate exit. Stations must have internet connectivity and chargers must be DC (Direct Current) Fast Charging. Each station must have at least four charging ports of at least 150kw capable of simultaneous operation. Most cars can achieve a usable charge in about 20 to 25 minutes at a 150-kW station.

Once the presentation was concluded, it was evident WYDOT is getting ready for future vehicles, which are starting to proliferate in many parts of the nation, to be able to come to the State with ease.

 

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