Texas will get up to $408 million over the next five years to build electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure across the state’s roadways, thanks to federal funding announced Tuesday.
An allocated $147 million through 2023 is intended to build 55 charging stations on Texas’ highways for the state’s current 150,147 electric vehicles.
The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program announced Tuesday is funded by President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico get a slice of the $1.5 billion allocated for the next two years to equip 75,000 miles of highway with electric vehicle infrastructure, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The plan over the next five years totals more than $4 billion for the nation.
Texas received the most funding of any state, with California slated to receive $383 million over the next five years.
“I think, in reality though, it’s just a drop in the bucket for what’s going to have to be done if we’re going to make a change to electric cars,” said Bruce Bullock, director of Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute. He said the investment is a “step in the right direction” for electric vehicle drivers.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation electric vehicle infrastructure plan, the agency will install 55 new stations across the state’s interstates and highways in the first year, with contracting beginning in spring 2023.
Initial stations will be built along major roads such as Interstates 20 and 30 in North Texas. In the second year of the plan, the department will build out the network to rural areas with stations mainly in county seats, in addition to adding more stations in major urban areas.
The idea is to ensure a charging station every 50 to 70 miles on the same corridor of road, and no further than one mile from interstate exits or highway intersections, to meet the Federal Highway Administration’s requirements.
Each station will have at least four charging ports.
“The density, distribution, and power of the EV network outlined in this plan is targeted to support 1 million electric vehicles when built out,” the Texas plan states.
The new locations would be in addition to 27 existing stations built by the private sector and 26 planned locations funded by Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement grants, TxDOT said.
This federal investment in electric vehicles comes almost a month after Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a climate bill that includes tax credit incentives for consumers to buy EVs. In late August, California advanced legislation to end the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
While Texas has just over 150,000 electric vehicles, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas predicts there will be 1 million on Texas roadways by 2028, TxDOT said.
“With Texas’s plan now approved, this is a huge step forward in implementing this program, which will create jobs and give folks more options as they travel across our state,” said Rep. Collin Allred, D-Dallas, said in a statement.
TxDOT acknowledged EV infrastructure plan situations like the winter storm of February 2021 could affect the reliability of the electric grids that power charging stations.
“We will include the need to plan for emergencies in choosing the sites for charging stations,” the group stated in the plan.
Solutions the group outlined included keeping stations near crossroads and interchanges for accessibility to drivers and aligned with “priority grid capabilities.”
When it comes to whether these charging stations would affect the state’s electric grid capacity in the future, Bullock, with SMU’s Maguire Energy Institute, said he doesn’t expect the number outlined would make much of an impact.
“It’s going to take quite a number all charging at the same time for that to happen,” he said.
In addition, unlike gasoline-powered cars, refueling an electric vehicle can take anywhere as long as 20 minutes, which presents a new infrastructure challenge at the stations, Bullock added.
“The [stations] are probably going to have to offer more amenities,” he said, “maybe free Wi-Fi, things of that nature, so people will actually have something to do while their car is charging.”
Bullock also pointed out that the charging stations will likely not make a substantial dent when it comes to reducing carbon emissions — especially in Texas, where natural gas, coal and wind power the electric grid.
“It will be difficult to add additional renewable resources to the grid, so whatever’s got to be added to fuel the electricity grid will likely be fossil fuels,” he said.