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How States Can Optimize Federal Funds for Commercial EV Charging

Money is coming down for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, but much of the federal guidance focuses on light-duty vehicles. States should also prioritize charging for heavy-duty vehicles for longer-term success.

A digital rendering of an electric truck at a charging station.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) appropriates at least $7.5 billion in funding applicable for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula (NEVI) Program and the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure discretionary grant program. In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released guidance to state DOTs for implementation of the NEVI Program that will put the United States on a path to a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.

While the U.S. DOT’s guidance specifically details the requirements for light-duty vehicle (LDV) charging infrastructure, it barely addressed the topic for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Despite comprising only 10 percent of the vehicles on the road, medium- and heavy-duty trucks make up 57 percent of harmful particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions and 29 percent of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. Electrifying the trucking sector is crucial to accelerating the decarbonization and equity goals of the IIJA since these vehicles have a disproportionate impact on local air quality and overall carbon emissions, traveling on roadways that are often located near disadvantaged communities and communities of color.

State DOTs should look beyond the largely LDV-focused guidance to ensure their programs adequately plan for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle charging as well. In addition, the U.S. DOT should play a greater role in and focus on truck charging in the forthcoming Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) for the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure discretionary grant program.


The NEVI Program funds can only be used for charging projects located along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors until a state has been certified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that its corridors have been completed. This can occur when EV charging infrastructure is installed every 50 miles along the state’s identified corridors. Under the guidance, the EV charging infrastructure must include at least four fully public 150 kilowatts direct current fast chargers with combined charging system (CCS) ports with a minimum total station power capability of 600kW.

This means Alternative Fuel Corridors will be outfitted to charge LDVs but not properly equipped for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, with respect to ingress, egress and turning radius, as well as connector types for megawatt discharge in the near future. When all Alternative Fuel Corridors in a state meet the charging criteria for LDVs, this should not be the end of funding for corridor projects. Rather, states can begin to fund non-corridor projects, but should also support medium- and heavy-duty charging along priority highways and routes based on the movement of freight and deliveries.

In addition, once Alternative Fuel Corridors are completed for LDVs, states can support truck depot charging sites that service two or more commercial entities. Depots are critical for enabling large commercial fleets to electrify operations, as in many cases these fleets operate daily “return-to-base” routes and it is neither feasible nor cost-effective to install sufficient charging capacity at a single facility.

These medium- and heavy-duty vehicle applications are already commercially available and are being deployed today for drayage and last-mile delivery services. Without accelerating additional infrastructure development, medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle supply will only continue to outpace charging capacity.

State agencies can look to existing examples of infrastructure funding programs for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles when designing their NEVI Program plans, such as the various Volkswagen Settlement Funds programs that target EV charging equipment or California’s EnergIIZE charging infrastructure program for zero-emission trucks and buses.


The Charging and Fueling Infrastructure discretionary grant program solicitation from the U.S. DOT will be issued later this year in the form of a NOFO. Smartly, this program is divided into two categories: corridors and communities. Hopefully, the strongest proposals will be for EV charging infrastructure, rather than other eligible “clean” fuel types such as hydrogen, propane and natural gas.

Given that the NEVI Program guidance was not targeted at medium- and heavy-duty vehicle charging, the Corridors Program should prioritize solutions that create networks, or a corridor, that enables specific routes to be electrified, rather than single points of unaffiliated charging sites — especially if the network is interstate. This will provide confidence and assurance to commercial organizations seeking to electrify highway freight and delivery activities.

The Communities Program funding will prioritize projects that expand access to EV charging and alternative fueling infrastructure within rural areas, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and communities with a low ratio of private parking spaces. Legacy housing practices like redlining and highway placement have resulted in disadvantaged communities and communities of color being closer to highway corridors, which results in worse public health outcomes from pollution exposure. Depot charging should be deemed eligible for Corridors and Communities grants from U.S. DOT within a coming NOFO as infrastructure for commercial fleets in underserved areas along corridors or within local communities can provide significant electrification, emissions, local air quality and workforce benefits.

A great example of these types of projects, which the U.S. DOT could emulate, can be seen with California’s Charging Access for Reliable On-Demand Transportation Services (CARTS) competitive grant program. The grant funds are being used for projects that support EV charging infrastructure for high-mileage on-demand transportation services including services such as ride-hailing, taxis, and meal and grocery delivery. For example, a recent CARTS grant was awarded to develop a ride-hailing electric vehicle charging hub in Santa Ana, Calif., that will serve the John Wayne International Airport and surrounding Orange County region with electric taxi service and directly employ several hundred drivers, with benefits, from disadvantaged communities in the area.

The IIJA establishes a novel dynamic in which state and local entities receive federal funding but are encouraged to partner with a private entity that will fund 20 percent of the project expenses. Beyond designing and administering the NEVI funds, states can better attract federal dollars by designating a central contact to enhance public-private sector coordination and shepherd charging infrastructure projects and grants. States can look to examples of centralized processes such as Arizona DOT’s assignment of a grants coordinator and executive grant team to create efficiencies for the state and private-sector grant proponents.

The IIJA funds for EV charging will not fully solve the infrastructure challenge for the electrification of transportation, but it is a significant down payment on this critical energy systems transition. By establishing programs and processes that support the deployment of charging infrastructure across the spectrum of vehicles, the public sector can better ensure that the infrastructure is available when it is needed to decarbonize transportation — the cars and trucks are coming fast and need charging.

David Schlosberg is vice president, Solutions, for TeraWatt Infrastructure. Prior to joining TeraWatt, David was head of Energy Services, North America, for Enel X eMobility, where he led the business line's participation in energy and environmental markets, load management programs for electric utilities, smart charging partnerships with electric vehicle automakers and strategy for vehicle-to-grid integration technology. Previously, he was principal, Energy Market Analysis, within the Alphabet/Google Access and Energy division, where he was responsible for regulatory activities as well as related business development initiatives with utilities, energy management providers and renewable energy companies.