City officials and gas station owners were among attendees at an application workshop in Montgomery this week, all in the hopes for a piece of $80 million in federal grant money set aside for the construction of electric vehicle charging stations.
Approximately $7.5 billion was allocated in the 2021 Infrastructure bill for the construction of EV charging stations, nearly $80 million of which will be awarded to Alabama over the next five years. That money will in turn be awarded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as grants to applicants, many of whom raised several questions at a workshop to determine their eligibility.
“We have a great deal of dollars that has been awarded to ADECA over the next five years,” said Kenneth Boswell, director of ADECA. “You’re very much a part of helping us get the infrastructure in place that the state of Alabama needs in order to support industry. All of our auto manufactures that are located in the state are headed in the direction of electric vehicles.”
Known as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula program, or NEVI, the program will see Alabama receive nearly $12 million in its first round of funding, and nearly $17 million every year after that through 2026. The first round of funding will prioritize projects along the interstate highway system, with eligible projects required to be located within one mile from interstate exits along designated highways, though applicants may request an exemption to this requirement.
Shonda Gray, special projects unit chief for NEVI, explained that while rural parts of the state will largely be excluded from the first round of funding, once enough charging stations are constructed along major interstates, rural areas could be targeted in future rounds.
“The program is designed to first build out the alternative fuel corridors, which are the interstates right now,” Gray said.
“We have submitted in our NEVI plan to the federal government to include some of our federal highways like 231 or 31, 43, but we cannot build off of the interstates to any other highways until all the interstates are completely built out, so we are primarily focusing on our interstates now to make sure that we get chargers spaced every 50 miles along the interstates. Once that’s done we can turn our focus to other areas of the state.”
Additionally, charging stations must be no greater than 50 miles apart from each other, and must be available for use in publicly accessible areas 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Projects must also have an estimated completion date of between 12 and 18 months.
One city official who attended the meeting was Tuskegee Mayor Lawrence Haygood, who was hoping a successful grant application could bode well for his own community.
“We’re particularly interested because you have people who pass through our community on the interstate; a lot of people who come to the community come to the university, come to the veterans hospital, and then we have new automotive industries coming to our community, and they’re going to be making battery components for the electric vehicles,” Haygood told Alabama Daily News.
There are 12 areas along highways that are prioritized in the first round of funding, and include areas along I-65 north of Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham, as well as along I-20 on both the east and west borders of the state. View below for all high-priority areas included in the initial round of funding.