A Nebraska electric vehicle charging infrastructure plan is in the works.
The plan was detailed at Monday’s meeting of the Grand Island Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Advisory Committee. This is a new program, Nebraska Department of Transportation highway planning officer Craig Wacker told city officials and community leaders on the committee.
A draft of the plan was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration after a six-month study period that began in February.
The program is funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program, which, among other objectives, aims to promote fast charging stations along alternative fuel corridors.
Nebraska is getting $6 million a year for the next five years through the bill. Nebraska’s alternative fuel corridors have been designated for several years, Wacker said.
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“In the state of Nebraska, the corridors are basically (Interstate 80) and then Highway 6 that connects the river to I-80 through Gretna. It’s the Omaha area on Highway 6,” he said.
The construction of an alternative fuel corridor is the first priority of the program.
“Before we can really reach out and spend that money elsewhere in the state, those areas need to be built,” Wacker said.
The build consists of: four DC fast chargers per location, with chargers no more than 80 km apart in any corridor. Fast charger funding is 80%/20% federal and local funding.
A difficulty is that there are few indications on public/private partnerships. The funds are not limited to the state or city that exclusively owns them, Wacker said.
“We can fund those kinds of situations, but we can also fund those charging stations at local gas stations,” he said.
That includes partnerships with companies such as Casey’s, Love’s or Bosselman, which is unique for federal funds and for state-administered funds, Wacker said.
“How this is all going to play out is still a bit uncertain, because frankly five months hasn’t been enough for us to get everything settled,” he said.
Funds cannot go to a Tesla station, Wacker noted.
“It has to be a unified charging station,” he said. “Teslas uses the others with an adapter plug, but a regular car can’t go to a Tesla station and use it.”
He added, “Basically, we can’t finance Tesla.”
A DC fast charger costs around $500,000.
They’re expensive because they require special lines to summon large amounts of energy very quickly, Wacker said.
“They just sit there completely inactive, not absorbing any type of energy, but as soon as you plug them in, they absorb a lot of energy very quickly,” he said. “Having transmission lines that can go from zero to that and back to zero is expensive.”
While I-80 is “not far from being built,” a charger is needed between Lincoln and Grand Island, and possibly for the 65-mile distance between Lincoln and Omaha, Wacker said.
“We have more chargers than people realize,” he said. “Some of that was because of the money from the VW scandal that came into the state. That was how the state was spending it, it was setting up electric charging stations.
The civilian Volkswagen Clean Air Act of 2017 provided $2.7 billion for environmental programs to reduce carbon emissions and $2 billion for clean car development and supporting infrastructure.
Nebraska received $11.5 million for mitigation programs.
These funds were used to help provide a new EV charging point at the Grand Island Super Saver on Second Street.
For more information, visit the Nebraska NEVI web page at ndot.info/NEVI.