2024 is off to a momentous start for electric transportation in North Carolina. Most notably, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has released 11 sites that will make up the first phase of requests for proposals (RFPs) for eventual charging locations funded by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI).
As a quick recap, NEVI is a federal program administered by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. States across the country, North Carolina included, are receiving their share of $5 billion to deploy high-speed charging along critical travel corridors. North Carolina can expect to receive over $100 million, with NCDOT serving as the program’s primary administrator. This article can catch you up on the state’s role and focus.
North Carolina isn’t the first out of the gate with NEVI. Some states have already issued RFPs, awarded contracts and gotten chargers online (this first site is really cool). You can find the states participating here. Regardless, North Carolina’s latest step is significant in the long process to getting NEVI electrons flowing. Take a look at the 11 proposed location “clusters”:
How do these locations compare with what NCDOT identified in its original plan? The image below shows, using green pins, installed stations that already meet NEVI guidance. These sites can be used to meet the “every 50 miles criteria” along Alternative Fuel Corridors. The blue pins denote areas that would be needed to maintain NEVI compliance with new sites.
So, back to these recent clusters. While only the first batch, they do align with the originally identified locations from NCDOT’s NEVI plan submission in 2022, which was updated in 2023. Here are some takeaways from the announcement of clusters:
- Critical areas of Eastern North Carolina are well represented. There are five clusters east of Raleigh. Fast charging has been slowly rolling out in Eastern North Carolina, but it’s a big land mass with a large percentage of rural counties. While you can mostly get where you’re going with fast charging in this part of the state, the proposed locations will fill critical gaps and provide much-needed redundancy along common charging routes.
- We can’t quite say the same for Western North Carolina. For the first round, NCDOT is only including one cluster west of I-77, on the east side of Asheville, though six sites were proposed west of I-77 in its 2022 NEVI plan. With plenty of rural counties and for a geography with serious tourism appeal (far from just Asheville), we would have loved to see more investment sent west.
- Making investments count for all of North Carolina. One key component of the federal NEVI program is a requirement to direct investments to underserved communities. State programs must comply with Justice40 guidelines, with 40% of program and infrastructure investment made in underserved locations. With the GIS map of clusters, there is a layer for disadvantaged communities, which you can see highlighted in pink below. Check out how the clusters are positioned relative to those areas:
Plug-in NC applauds NCDOT’s work to feature so many of the initial clusters within, or adjacent to, disadvantaged communities. Only three cluster locations do not have direct overlap with a disadvantaged tract (Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Elizabeth City). There will still be necessary areas of attention with the contracting and RFP process to make sure there are competitive applications in each of these locations, but it’s a great start.
- Use the utility data request form: this one. You’ve likely heard it before, but it’s even more critical for these NEVI sites — proper planning and coordination with an electric utility is essential. If you’re an interested site host, make sure your utility is aware of your intentions for pursuing this opportunity. If you need help finding the right people to speak with, drop us a note and we’ll do our best to ensure those conversations get started. This “list of exits” document from NCDOT also has the utility reference for each site:
- Six clusters are served by Duke Energy
- Two clusters are non-Duke Energy
- Three clusters have multiple utilities within the acceptable range of placement
Overall, we’re thrilled with the update and excited to see RFPs roll out. We’ll be sure to keep the posts coming as they go live.