The Arizona DOT recently announced that it is holding a public meeting on July 14th to gather more input from the public as it develops a solid plan for EV charging in the state. The meeting will be held via Zoom, so anyone from anywhere can attend and provide input. If you can’t attend the meeting, they’ll post a video of it for public viewing, and will still be taking input by e-mail.
“ADOT will be seeking input from the public and a wide variety of agency and industry stakeholders during the preparation of the plan.” the agency’s website says. Public outreach will include surveys and online and in-person public meetings. Since the initial plan will be high level, additional public input will occur after plan submission to work out the details of implementation.”
Why They’re Making A Plan & Seeking Public Input
As we’ve previously reported, Arizona DOT has been working on this project for at least several weeks. The agency didn’t start out doing anything as cool as Washington State DOT’s interactive map, but was quick to request information from Arizona drivers and people who regularly visit from other states.
“The long-range plan is being developed in response to funding made available through the recently-approved federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) chargers along alternative fuel corridors.” the agency said. “In Arizona, those routes are currently identified as the state’s interstate highways and, if approved, $76 million would be available to begin implementing this project.”
But, what’s the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act? I’m glad you asked. In a nutshell, it was the law that got passed last year that helps fulfill one of Pres. Biden’s campaign promises (and, it’s a rare thing when you see a campaign promise come to fruition). The goal? To put in 500,000 EV charging stations and take away one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption. Under the bill, states have to follow a specific formula when making a plan to use federal funding, which includes doing the following to all interstate highways (if it hasn’t been done already):
- Gaps of no more than 50 miles between chargers, and chargers within a mile of the interstate.
- At least four 150 kW or higher rate chargers, with CCS connectors.
- Ability to simultaneously charge four vehicles at that rate or greater.
- Exceptions are available for any of these on a case-by-case basis (unavailability of electricity, etc.), but funding can be used to prepare a site for stations by adding power generating capacity, etc.
Once the main interstate highways are covered, funds can be used to build more stations along other highways, and do other things to improve EV infrastructure. So, states that already have many stations can still make improvements.
But, before they can get federal funds to build the stations, they have to submit a plan for the build-out and get it approved. So, Arizona is trying to build a decent plan to submit in August so it can get to get building stations ASAP. It seems obvious that asking people who know EVs better than it does would help move that process along and help the state get the most charging bang for the limited federal dollars they’re getting ($76.5 million).
What The Arizona DOT Has Done So Far
The agency didn’t start out by requesting information immediately, but it did start asking for people to join their e-mail list last month. That way, when they have meetings, surveys, etc., it will have the opportunity to get input from the people most interested in EVs.
Once it started putting out dates for meetings, the DOT also released a survey, which you can take here. The survey starts by giving you an introduction to what the survey is for (which I covered above), and then asks for some very basic information (zip code, e-mail, what you usually do for transportation). It then asks how you feel (scale of 1-5) on a number of statements, and asks where you think EV rapid charging stations belong, by the kind of location (work, shopping, food, etc.). Then, you are asked to rate the importance of each interstate corridor in Arizona and for three suggestions for non-interstate highways to electrify.
After getting this input, the agency is now going to hold a few meetings to get more direct public input and explain its plan further, which should lead to a decent plan if the EV owner community helps them out.
Where’s This Going Next?
One great thing that Arizona has going for it is Electrify America. Because its corridors are important east-west connections from the state with the most EVs, it made sense for Electrify America to at least provide some very basic coverage of the main interstates. This doesn’t put those corridors over the federal finish line, but it puts the state at least half-way there on most stretches of interstate.
For I-10, half of I-40, and I-8, ADOT only needs to plan to put in stations between those EA already put in. In some cases, this cuts the cost of covering those corridors in half, while in other cases, it means they’re only 1/3 or so the way there. For I-17, they’re going to have a lot more work to do, but it’s a short interstate that will definitely need more stations to compensate for being one of the steepest climbs in the country.
If it were my call, I’d do the following:
For I-10, add stations at:
- Truck stops in New Hope and Tonopah
- East Tucson
- San Simon
For I-8, add stations at:
- South of Maricopa
- Gila Bend
For I-40, add them at:
- I-40, US-93 (future I-11) intersection or nearby
- Petrified Forest National Park
- Sanders or Lupton (state line)
For I-17, add stations at:
- Black Canyon City
- Cordes Lakes
- Camp Verde
- Munds Park
(all of these are needed because the road is so steep)
This isn’t a super long list. That means that the EV charging money from the federal government will probably be able to do more than just the interstate highways. Covering important US Highway corridors, like US-70, US-60, and US-93 (future I-11) would help get more of the state able to consider seriously buying an EV.
Featured image and corridor map provided by Arizona DOT (ADOT).
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