Federal Highway Administration Proposes National EV Charging Network Standards


In keeping with President Biden’s commitment to jumpstart the construction of a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers by 2030, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on proposed minimum standards and requirements for projects funded under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program.

These minimum standards will help ensure our national EV charging network is user-friendly, reliable and accessible to all Americans, and interoperable between different charging companies, with similar payment systems, pricing information, charging speeds, and more.

The proposed rule would establish the groundwork for states to build federally funded charging station projects across a national EV charging network, an important step towards making EV charging accessible to all Americans. No matter what kind of EV a user drives, what state they charge in or what charging company they plug into, the minimum standards will ensure a unified network of chargers with similar payment systems, pricing information, charging speeds and more. The standards also establish strong workforce requirements for installation, maintenance and operations to increase the safety and reliability of charging station function and use, and create and support good-paying, highly-skilled jobs in communities across the country.

This news follows the announcement earlier this year of nearly $5 billion that will be made available to states over the next five years under the new NEVI Formula Program, established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to build out a national EV charging network.

“To support the transition to electric vehicles, we must build a national charging network that makes finding a charge as easy as filling up at a gas station,” states U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These new ground rules will help create a network of EV chargers across the country that are convenient, affordable, reliable and accessible for all Americans.” 

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides states with both the funding and framework to build out a reliable charging network that gives more people the confidence they need to buy and use electric vehicles to travel from coast to coast and in every state in between” comments Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “This is a foundational step that will provide EV drivers with predictable access to reliable electric vehicle charging access across the United States.”

The proposed requirements will help states as they develop their EV deployment plans in concert with the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is providing direct technical assistance and support to help states with the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. 

“We’re tackling range anxiety and vehicle charging deserts by making sure that charging stations are easily and equally accessible, allowing every American can get coast to coast in an electric vehicle,” mentions U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The investments made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will not only build an interconnected national charging network, but also boost local economies and strengthen our independence from the volatilities of fossil fuels.”

Additionally, DOE, in coordination with DOT through the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, has announced that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Electric Vehicle Working Group (EVWG) is making recommendations regarding the development, adoption and integration of EVs into America’s transportation and energy systems. Authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the advisory group will consist of 25 representatives, federal government employees, and special government employees (SGE). The group will compile reports related to the adoption of EVs for the Joint Office, determine how the Biden Administration will ensure the sustainable integration of EVs into the electric grid, prepare the workforce for more EVs, and maintain global competitiveness in electric transportation infrastructure and technology.

FHWA has also released additional resources to help states successfully complete their deployment plans and access NEVI formula funding to build out the charging network. These resources include new NEVI formula program Questions and Answers and a new resource to help states, particularly rural states, evaluate the best locations for charging stations when it may not be possible to provide charging stations at the required 50-mile intervals.

Charging stations would be required to contain a minimum number and type of chargers capable of supporting drivers’ fast-charging needs. Additionally, FHWA proposed rules would require consistency regarding the installation, operation and maintenance of NEVI Formula Program projects to provide the traveling public with reliable expectations for their charging experience. The proposed rule would further specify the required minimum density of provided chargers, payment methods and requirements for customer support services.

Proposed rules will set strong certification standards for the workers installing, operating and maintaining electric vehicle chargers, ensuring funds support good-paying, high-quality jobs and chargers are installed by a highly skilled, professional workforce. The proposed rule will also support workforce development and on-the-job training, building the clean energy workforce of the future.

Other proposed requirements would help create a seamless national network of EV charging infrastructure that could communicate and operate on the same software platforms from one state to another; address traffic control devices and on-premise signage; data submittal requirements to help create a public EV charging database; and network connectivity requirements to allow for secure remote monitoring, diagnostics, control and updates.

Additionally, the FHWA proposes requirements that would standardize communication to consumers of price and availability of each charging station to help consumers make informed decisions about trip planning and when and where to charge their EVs. 

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