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Arizona to Invest in EV Charging Stations Over Next 5 Years

The state of Arizona is set to receive $76.5 million from the National Electric Vehicle Program that will fund a wave of EV charger upgrades and construction through the Arizona Department of Transportation.

EV Charging
(TNS) — The State of Arizona is set to receive $76.5 million from the National Electric Vehicle Program ( NEVI) that will fund a wave of electric vehicle (EV) charger upgrades and construction through the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

Under current plans, upgrades will begin next year and new construction in 2024. ADOT is currently seeking public input on its plan, and a public meeting on the subject will take place Wednesday at the Flagstaff Aquaplex, located at 1702 N. Fourth St., from 5 to 7 p.m.

ADOT's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan was approved by the Federal Highway Administration in September, making the agency eligible to claim a portion of the $5 billion in federal funds made available to NEVI through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. According to ADOT, with the newly granted $76.5 million, "the goal is to develop a network of EV fast chargers to facilitate long-distance EV travel and encourage EV adoption by more users."

According to a report by the Alternative Fuels Data Center of the United States Department of Energy, Arizona has the seventh-highest number of electric cars in the country at around 28,770 EVs. On a population-weighted level, it means that about one in every 250 people in Arizona has an electric vehicle.

ADOT's proposed EV charger network encompasses Arizona's alternative fuel corridors (AFC), which currently include the interstate highways. Additional highways, however, may be designated as AFCs for future EV charger construction.

The plan is to upgrade eight existing chargers throughout the state and construct 13 to 21 new EV charging stations in a handful of locations. With few exceptions, the proposed network will have a station of four fast chargers — capable of charging the average EV in about 30 minutes — located every 50 miles along the AFCs. In northern Arizona, it includes new and/or improved chargers in Camp Verde, Munds Park, Twin Arrows Casino, Seligman, Kingman, Holbrook, Sanders and the Petrified National Forest.

Farther south, Tucson and Nogales are also included in planned construction. Flagstaff and Phoenix are not.

"The assumption is that some of the larger municipalities or municipalities that have already been forging ahead with electric vehicle infrastructure or commitment, such as Flagstaff and Phoenix, may not be as in need of some of the more rural areas in the state," said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Group that has been cooperating with ADOT in the dissemination of information about the plan.

Flagstaff currently has 12 publicly listed chargers in the city. Nearly all are hosted by either a hotel, municipal or county facility.

"EV owners and potential owners are encouraged to attend the Flagstaff meeting and let ADOT know if they in fact would like to see more charging added in Flagstaff," Brown said.

Exact locations of charger construction are yet to be determined and will largely depend on the request-for-proposal process whereby ADOT will partner with private entities to construct chargers.

According to an ADOT infographic on the plan, "No ADOT funding will be used to construct and maintain the charging stations. Stations will be privately owned, operated and maintained. Costs for constructing the stations will be split between the federal government and the operator, with 80% from federal funding and 20% from the private entity."

According to technology consultants Future Energy, a commercial grade fast-charging EV port can cost up to $40,000.

For some businesses in northern Arizona, ADOT's plan may be a bit of a mixed bag.

"I don't think it's logical for my town," said Aaron Ryan, manager at the Roadkill Café in Seligman, a town of fewer than 500 residents that is included in ADOT's plan for new EV charger construction.

"This is a very small town," Ryan added. "I guarantee you there's not going to be one electric car in it for quite some time."

Ryan expressed concerns over whether new stations would be wired into the grid or run by generators. He also reported that his business — a prominent Seligman fixture that hypothetically could be an ideal for charging station construction — had shied from the idea when earlier investigations revealed infrastructural inadequacy.

"It's going to surge our power too much if we have those installed here," Ryan said.

Nonetheless, Ryan also mentioned that as a business in a town that largely depends on tourism traffic between California, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, there have been times when customers have asked about the availability of EV charging. But in terms of infrastructural priorities, Ryan said he'd rather see potholes on Interstate 40 fixed before an EV charger rollout.

"I'm just not for the big push yet," Ryan said.

Those interested in learning more ore contributing comment about ADOT's EV charger plan are encouraged to attend the Wednesday public meeting, or visit AZDOT.gov/EVplan for more information and access to a public survey.

© 2022 The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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