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The Biden administration wants to prioritize “underserved and disadvantaged” areas as it rolls out a new $2.5 billion electric vehicle program.
The Transportation Department opened applications for its first tranche of funding for the competitive, five-year program Tuesday, making up to $700 million available for chargers and alternative fuel.
Officials said the equity-focused grants would help address unequal access to chargers across the US, especially between urban and rural areas. President Joe Biden set a goal of deploying half a million electric-vehicle chargers across the US by 2030.
“Ensuring that charging stations are more visible and accessible in our communities addresses the concerns many American drivers have when considering making the switch to electric,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday in a statement.
The money is from the 2021 infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58), which also included a separate $5 billion formula program to install chargers for electric vehicles along highways that every state submitted a plan for last year. The Federal Highway Administration finalized its minimum standards for chargers last month and Tesla Inc. agreed to open some of its charging network to other company’s vehicles.
Applications for the first round of spending in the program, which is aimed at both urban and rural areas, are due by May 30. Half the program’s total spending is focused on electric-vehicle chargers, as well as hydrogen, propane, or natural gas fueling stations in publicly accessible locations, with the other half for designated alternative fuel corridors.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview with Bloomberg reporters on Monday that the administration is being “very international” with its two tracks of electric vehicle charging money. He said rural areas are more likely to have single family homes with a wall or garage for plugging in vehicles, while dense urban areas may lack that infrastructure for charging in apartment buildings.
“Equity is going to be a huge part of this,” Buttigieg said. “So many of the people who could theoretically gain the most from the gas and diesel savings of having an electric car are those who will be most impacted by the sticker price and by the lack of charging infrastructure.”
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