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West Virginia Working on RFP for EV Charging Infrastructure

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has been planning to choose one vendor to build and maintain the first phase of the state's charging stations, which are to be federally funded.

West Virginia
(TNS) — With spring one week away, a new season is long overdue for progress on West Virginia's federally funded plan to build out electric vehicle infrastructure.

As West Virginia plots its path forward on the first phase of the plan, other states more advanced in implementation are featuring electric vehicles in their plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions whose impacts to which West Virginia is especially vulnerable.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation has been planning to choose one vendor to build and maintain the first phase of the state's charging stations federally funded by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden.

In its original plan publication in July 2022, the DOT estimated it would award contracts for phase one for electric alternative fuel corridors in spring 2023.

Then in July, the DOT said it expected to award a vendor contract in the fourth quarter of 2023 or first quarter of 2024.

In January, Perry Keller, DOT Division of Highways chief economic development officer, said during a Jan. 23 DOT virtual public meeting to answer questions and solicit input on its electric vehicle infrastructure plan the agency hoped to have "something out in the next two to three weeks" regarding its procurement process. The DOT had been "collecting" what other states were doing, Keller said.

But Keller said in a statement provided by DOT spokesperson Jake Flatley last week the DOT is still developing a request for proposal for the first phase of its procurement strategy.

The DOT didn't respond to requests for comment on whether there's a new time frame for request for proposal development or why that development isn't complete.

WV DOT: State needs more EV charging infrastructure

West Virginia had 21,600 electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid light-duty vehicles registered in 2022, according to U.S. Department of Energy data. The state had 1,267,500 gasoline-powered light-duty vehicles registered in 2022.

But the DOT has predicted West Virginia will need a lot more electric vehicle charging infrastructure than even its five-year, $45.7 million allotment of federal funding will provide.

The DOT said in its buildout plan electric vehicle sales and registrations in West Virginia increased 1,051% and 1,686%, respectively, from 2016 to 2023. The DOT estimates NEVI-funded ports comprise just 10% of the ports West Virginia will need for public charging by 2027.

West Virginia is already in the middle of its allotment of federal funding. West Virginia was allocated roughly $6.7 million for fiscal year 2022 and $9.7 million for fiscal years 2023 and 2024, with two more $9.7 million allotments expected for fiscal years 2025 and 2026.

Electric vehicles figured little into a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions West Virginia submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this month seeking federal funding for that purpose through a multibillion-dollar competitive grant program.

The West Virginia Office of Energy-submitted plan drew criticism from renewable energy advocates by relying heavily on improving efficiency of existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, and new generation from combined-cycle gas turbine plants and small modular reactor and carbon capture technologies unproven at commercial scale.

Neighboring states way ahead on emission cuts

Neighboring states, though, have electric vehicles as central to their plans submitted for the same program, the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program established through the Inflation Reduction Act Biden signed into law in 2022.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the on-road transportation sector through vehicle electrification and other zero- and low-carbon fuels is the first measure of Virginia's Priority Climate Action Plan submitted for the program. Virginia's program includes incentive and assistance programs, workforce development, and other activities to encourage adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and vehicles that rely on low-carbon-intensity fuel.

Maryland's plan touted the state's electric vehicle tax credit program providing a one-time excise tax credit up to $3,000 for the purchase or lease of a new zero-emission plug-in electric or fuel cell electric vehicle.

Pennsylvania's plan highlighted a 2020 memorandum of understanding it signed with 14 other states to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with a goal to ensure 100% of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles by 2050 with an interim target of 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030.

In October, Ohio became the first state to break ground on an electric vehicle charging station supported by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the federal Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Ohio began accepting proposals from companies to install and operating electric vehicle charging stations in the state in Oct. 2022.

Also in October, Kentucky announced a second round of awards for developers to design, build, operate and maintain a statewide electric vehicle station charging network. Gov. Andy Beshear announced five developers were approved to build eight public charging stations.

Meanwhile, with West Virginia lagging behind other states in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, West Virginia leaders have fought electric vehicle advancements.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey co-led — along with then-Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron — a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan opposing a proposed rule to tighten emissions from light-duty and medium-duty vehicles for model years 2027 and later as a "too-aggressive shift" that would risk economic stability and consumer safety.

A report released Tuesday by the Environmental Defense Fund and WSP USA, a Pittsburgh-based infrastructure advisory firm, found $188 billion in investments in electric vehicle and EV battery manufacturing in the U.S. and 195,000 direct EV-related U.S. jobs have been announced in the last nine years — with most coming in the past 18 months since the Inflation Reduction Act accelerated the market.

But West Virginia lawmakers failed to pass House Bill 4201 in the legislative session that ended Saturday. That bill would have created an investment tax credit for manufacturers of electric vehicles, electric vehicle component parts or electric vehicle power supply equipment.

© 2024 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.