(The Center Square) – Louisiana is set to receive $75 million in federal funding over the next five years to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways.
The funding is part of a $5 billion program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress that is expected to result in $14.1 million allocated to Louisiana for this fiscal year, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced last week.
The intent of the funding is to develop a network of electric vehicle chargers along highways and rural areas to support domestic manufacturing jobs and make electric vehicles more affordable for working families.
“This investment is a step in the right direction to help Louisiana achieve its climate goals of becoming net zero by 2050, and I am thankful to Sen. Bill Cassidy and Congressman Troy Carter for their work in making this a reality,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the impacts of climate change, which harms the state’s natural resources. One of the biggest changes in a low-carbon future will be seen in the way we travel. By making electric vehicles affordable to the daily commuter, and having the infrastructure to accommodate this, Louisiana can transition to using more renewable energy sources. These changes won’t come overnight, but this investment will help us in our efforts to reach these goals.”
Federal Highway Administration guidelines require a minimum 20% state match for the federal funds, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is creating grant programs for electric and alternative fuel vehicles, such as those that run on hydrogen, natural gas or propane.
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said the aim is to convert traditional gas stations into refueling stations that offer multiple options.
“We aim to have Louisiana become a competitor in EVs, and in doing so want to convert the appropriate allocation of ‘gas’ station assets into ‘fuel’ stations where a wide variety of fuels are available, electricity for charging EV batteries being one of them,” Wilson said.
The DOTD is expected to develop the grant programs and solicit applications over the next year, with the goal of making awards next year. The department also plans to monitor and inspect installations to assess the programs for future grants, according to the Edwards announcement.
The Biden administration has set a goal of installing electric charging stations every 50 miles along highways to encourage more drivers to purchase electric vehicles. Louisiana currently has 141 public electric charging stations for 1,950 registered electric vehicles, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the same year shows a total of 3.8 million registered vehicles in the state.
“The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market – in 2020, plug-in electric vehicles made up only 2.3% of new car sales in the U.S., compared to 6.2% in China,” according to a U.S. Department of Transportation fact sheet.
The funding announced last week is in addition to $1.7 million for 82 electric vehicle charging stations made available through a settlement between Volkswagon and the U.S. Justice Department over violations of the Clean Air Act.