While there are plenty of spots to pump gas along a 250-mile stretch of Interstate 80 from Rock Springs to Cheyenne — albeit spaced far apart — there may be more places for drivers of electric-powered cars to juice up.
A federally funded program to build electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across Wyoming may get a jumpstart since placed on life-support last spring.
Last May, the program was placed on hold over concerns the state could be stuck with a hefty bill if unprofitable stations were abandoned. There also was concern that the $24 million offered Wyoming won't be enough.
“We never threw in the towel,” said Jordan Young, a spokeswoman with the Wyoming Department of Transportation. “Really, we just paused it. We are not moving forward or backward.”
Looking For New Money
WYDOT is giving new investors until the end of January to come up with new ideas and to gauge interest from “potential station owners” about participating in the federally backed National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, Young said.
“We hit pause on this because we wanted to see what other states were doing,” Young told Cowboy State Daily. “No money was lost. No money was rejected.”
NEVI offered Wyoming nearly $24 million over five years to build 17 charging stations along interstate corridors on I-80, I-25 and I-90.
The program requires a 20% match from private businesses, which would build and operate the stations.
The feds would kick in money to support the stations’ operations for up to five years. The program required no state money.
After five years, the businesses are on their own with operating the charging stations.
$5 Million A Year
NEVI approved Wyoming’s five-year plan in September 2022.
Based on federal calculators of apportionment, Wyoming was allocated $3.9 million in NEVI money in 2022 and expects $5 million each year for the following four years to build out the EV infrastructure, according to figures provided by Young.
“As we understand it, NEVI funding does not yet have a specific deadline or expiration date so long as Congress continues to appropriate funding to the program,” Young explained.
“In the time since the state’s 2022 plan was developed, the market has changed and we’re seeing more charging stations open across the state,” said Keith Fulton, assistant chief engineer of planning at WYDOT in a prepared statement. “We want to see where there is interest and where there are gaps.”
Fulton notes that responses from investors will help WYDOT determine where there is a lack of interest, which could also support potential exemption requests for the requirement that stations be placed every 50 miles and be no more than 1 mile from an interstate exit.
“We are still progressing to get the plan that best fits Wyoming,” Young echoed.
Each station would provide at least four fast-charging ports capable of generating 150 kilowatts of juice simultaneously, enough for a 20-minute fill-up, she said.
Fast charger companies estimated in a December 2020 study that each of the four 150 kW port stations would cost between $478,000 and $725,000.
WYDOT received responses from six companies as part of its earlier 2022 plan. All confirmed the estimate as valid.
“We are just looking for a plan for Wyoming and its unique challenges,” Young said. “It’s meant to alleviate some of the range anxiety.”
Pat Maio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.