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Tool Helps Planners Pinpoint EV Fast-Charging Locations

The E-DRIVE, developed by the Georgetown Climate Center and M.J. Bradley and Associates is a digital tool to aid policymakers and planners in locating new high-speed charging for electric vehicles.

electric car charging
Policymakers and planners now have a new tool to aid in locating electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

The Georgetown Climate Center, in partnership with M.J. Bradley and Associates, developed a digital planning tool for locating high-speed charging stations using a range of criteria. The tool, which is free to use, is known as the Evaluation and Development of Regional Infrastructure for Vehicle Electrification (E-DRIVE).

It comes as policymakers at the local, regional and state levels are focused on expanding EV charging infrastructure, particularly as the federal government seems poised to help fund the build-out of some 500,000 charging stations nationwide in the proposed infrastructure bill.

A national network of EV charging infrastructure will require “robust partnerships and collaborations, along with effective planning, to make sure we’re deploying this infrastructure effectively, and equitably,” said Matthew Goetz, associate director of the mitigation program at the Georgetown Climate Center, during a webinar Nov. 3 to discuss E-DRIVE.

“And closely connected with this federal action is the role that state and local governments are going to have in planning and deploying these charging stations,” said Goetz.

E-DRIVE is applicable nationwide, and starts with having an updated database of existing high-speed charging locations. Users can search for ideal new locations using a range of criteria such as distance to existing charging, population density, home-charging access and equity concerns. The criteria can also be weighted to give higher priority to some factors more than others.

“This is really kind of where the magic happens, where the user can modify the results to reflect the appropriate balance of priorities,” said Grace Van Horn, principal consultant, M.J. Bradley and Associates, specializing in energy, climate change and transportation electrification, as she described the E-DRIVE.

The E-DRIVE can be used to examine a state, county, region or even a travel corridor for new charging locations. It can be particularly helpful to departments of transportation, planning authorities or multistate regions which have been coming together to plan for an electric car future.

Recently, governors from across the Midwest established the Regional Electric Vehicle for the Midwest Memorandum of Understanding (REV Midwest MOU,) an agreement to collaborate on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The states involved are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

More high-speed charging will need to be located along busy highway corridors, said Goetz, if a wider adoption of electric vehicles is to become realized.

Some of the future developments for the E-DRIVE tool could be adding data related to the location and density of Level 2 chargers — which are slower than high-speed chargers and are often found at workplaces or schools — as well as data related to EV registrations. The capacity of the high-speed charging stations is also not yet included. The location data for existing high-speed charging plugs is updated quarterly.

“We are very much likely to further develop this tool into what could be more of a resource for community-based organizations, or others who are engaged in planning for, or are assessing equitable transportation investments and charging infrastructure,” said Goetz.

The urgency to act in the face of a mounting climate crisis, combined with fresh momentum from the federal government and the auto industry, is rapidly advancing the need for more charging infrastructure, say experts.

“We really are at a pivotal moment today in history with transportation electrification,” said Sara Forni, senior manager for clean vehicles at Ceres, a sustainability advocacy nonprofit, working with companies and investors to help build leadership and drive clean energy.

“The E-DRIVE tool can help us put together some of these pieces to inform and better plan for the future,” Forni added in some of her comments on the webinar panel.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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