Feds Offer Billions More For EV Charging Stations, Wyoming Isn't Interested

The Wyoming Department of Transportation on Thursday said it isn't interested in more federal money to build out electric vehicle charging stations across Wyoming. With only 800 registered EVs in the state, WYDOT said there isn't a need for more.

May 30, 20245 min read

A new Level 3 Electrify America charging station in Cheyenne. While the company is building more of the top-level charging stations around Wyoming, most of its EV chargers are Level 2.
A new Level 3 Electrify America charging station in Cheyenne. While the company is building more of the top-level charging stations around Wyoming, most of its EV chargers are Level 2. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) isn't interested in more federal money to build out a multi-million-dollar network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the Cowboy State. 

Over the past several months, the state agency has continued to work with a consultant to draft a request for proposals to build out a limited state network of charging stations.  That’s good for now.

WYDOT isn’t pursing more money because the state doesn’t have much need for a bigger EV charging network, especially with only 800 registered EV owners in Wyoming.

Nonetheless, the federal government on Thursday announced plans to offer another $1.3 billion to further expand EV charging in communities with key roadways. 

WYDOT spokeswoman Jordan Young said that her agency is aware of the funding offer made by the federal government’s Joint Office of Energy and Transportation but doubted Wyoming would pursue any of the new grant money.

“I don’t believe that WYDOT will apply for additional funding,” even though the state meets the criteria to apply should it want, Young said. 

The agency has its hands full with the current RFP plus the state only has 800 registered EV users.

'Free' Taxpayer Money Everywhere

There are two buckets of federal grant funding that are available to communities, state governments and others for EV infrastructure building in the United States.

One bucket comes from the “Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI)” fund, while the other comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program – the latter of which Wyoming is already tapping.

The latest funding opportunity of $1.3 billion was made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and brings to $2.5 billion the total amount of money the government has set aside to pay for deployment of EV charging stations in the U.S. 

WYDOT is working with the NEVI program, which has offered $24 million to build out 17 charging stations along interstate corridors on I-80, I-25 and I-90 in Wyoming. Through NEVI, Wyoming allocated $3.9 million in 2022, and expects $5 million each of the following four years. 

Earlier this year, WYDOT moved forward with its proposed plans to build charging stations from the Federal Housing Administration – even though nothing has yet been built and solicitations to bring on board contractors for a statewide charging network haven’t yet happened. 

The NEVI 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.

Nonetheless, some concerns have arisen over the pace of Wyoming’s rollout, perhaps because it only has 800 registered EV owners, among the lowest of any state. 

Problems, Problems, Problems

The NEVI buildout in Wyoming also has slowed down for other reasons

Wyoming hasn’t had an easy go of getting its EV charging station program off the ground. This is partially why WYDOT paused the program in May 2023 and began a reboot in December to regain traction as it sorted out its own internal disruptions with changes in agency leadership.

Three months before the program was paused last year, Wyoming’s head of transportation, Luke Reiner, retired after four years in the role amid staffing challenges in the agency.

Additionally, Jesse Kirchmeier, special projects officer with WYDOT and a contract employee who helped build out the EV infrastructure project with the federal government, left the department. 

WYDOT’s Young said that her agency would notify EV infrastructure companies of the new funding opportunity despite the state’s decision to not apply for the grant money.

Though several states are far along in the EV charging station buildout, Wyoming isn’t the only state still trying to get things rolling. Several other states are in the same boat.

The EV charging network has had other struggles to contend with.

'Seven Or Eight'

Of the more than $7.5 billion used to subsidize a startup industry of EVs nationwide, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed in an interview with “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennen that only “seven or eight” federally produced charging stations have been produced. 

“Why isn’t that happening more quickly?” Brennen asked. 

Buttigieg said that the goal is get half a million chargers up and running by the end of the decade. 

“Now, in order to do a charger, it’s more than plugging a small device into the ground. There’s utility work, and this is also really a new category of federal investment,” said Buttigieg in the interview. “But we’ve been working with each of the 50 states, every one of them is getting formula dollars to do this work."

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