On August 1, 2022, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) submitted the North Carolina Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, a newly formed collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation. This plan will serve as the blueprint for North Carolina’s execution of the approximately $109 million that will be heading to the Tar Heel state as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, which stemmed from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in 2021.
Through its infrastructure analysis and stakeholder engagement efforts over the last several months, NCDOT is proposing 33 new high-powered DC fast charge locations — all with at least 150 kilowatts (kW) per port — along North Carolina’s Alternative Fuel Corridors. These stations will complement 10 existing DC fast charge stations that already meet NEVI program criteria (more on that below).
The proposed stations do not represent precise locations but rather target areas, or “segments,” where ultra-fast charging infrastructure should be sited. NCDOT will work with station providers and electric utilities through a proposal process for each segment. These applicants will need to demonstrate the appropriate cost contribution (20%, with federal funding providing 80%) and secure site hosts that meet NEVI’s requirements, specifically the condition that stations must be within one mile of an Alternative Fuel Corridor.
Plug-in NC’s Takeaways:
And a Few Questions:
We encourage folks to read the full North Carolina Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan to learn more about the environmental justice considerations, workforce development priorities and opportunities, public engagement approach and more. However, if you want a not-so-brief summary on NEVI and NCDOT’s plan, here we go! (And see the graphic to the right for what we can expect next.)
How did we get here?
This funding is coming from the NEVI program, which was established as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in November 2021. It will provide nearly $5 billion over the next five years, with the goal of creating a network of ultra-fast charging stations across the country. The NEVI program has a few requirements:
Furthermore, equity and access requirements include the following:
For the charging infrastructure itself, stations must have at least 97% reliability and should be publicly accessible at all hours. They also must operate for at least five years and be future-proofed for later expansion. Finally, they must “meet current and anticipated market demands” by having power capabilities of at least 600 kW with at least four CCS ports that support 150-plus kW per port simultaneously.
Everything we’ve talked about so far has to do with the federal requirements for NEVI. Let’s dive into what we learned from North Carolina’s plan.
Based on the public and stakeholder feedback, NCDOT has listed the following goals for successful NEVI program implementation:
North Carolina has over 3,800 miles of Alternative Fuel Corridors broken into “corridor ready” and “corridor pending” designations. (“Corridor pending” means a corridor does not yet have the number or spacing of alternative fueling locations needed to meet “corridor ready” status.) This network will be the foundation for the NEVI fast charging deployment across the state.
According to NCDOT’s analysis, nearly 70% of the existing 167 public DC fast charge stations in North Carolina are within one mile of an Alternative Fuel Corridor. (This count excludes Tesla Superchargers due to their proprietary nature.) However, as mentioned above, only 10 of those achieve NEVI’s power specifications, which means there are many locations around which NCDOT can plan for NEVI infrastructure placement. It also reduces the total investment needed to build out the entire network, which, theoretically, will allow for more funding to be allocated to community-based charging.
NCDOT will contract with third parties for installing NEVI-funded infrastructure along these segments. It has outlined a process that includes grant solicitation, a proposal procedure, funding justification for the 20% cost gap, and verification of access for drivers (forms of payment, safety measures, operating hours, etc.). NCDOT has also made clear that it will support a “robust, diversified, and skilled marketplace for public EV charging implementation and operations in North Carolina.” To support this claim, it will focus on proactive outreach to minority- and women-owned businesses to share more information about the NEVI program.
Workforce development initiatives will be led by units of the NCDOT Human Resources/Workforce Development teams to support a larger network of North Carolina’s skilled workforce and create new opportunities for training, business development and employment.
The plan also illustrates the interactions to be had with disadvantaged communities across the state and used guidance from the Justice40 Initiative to identify those communities in North Carolina. Over 70% of the state’s population lives in a Justice40 community, and this plan prioritizes funding, infrastructure deployment, outreach, workforce development and air quality monitoring research in these areas.
Lastly, NCDOT will be establishing performance metrics and indicators to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the NEVI program. These indicators will be developed through community and stakeholder input as well as through guidance from the Federal Highway Administration. The primary areas for evaluation will include regulatory compliance, community characteristics, economic impact and equity.
The NEVI program and the North Carolina Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan represent an exciting milestone for electric transportation in the state. Plug-in NC applauds NCDOT and its partners for their hard work and is looking forward to engaging more with the plan in the coming months. Stay tuned!