IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

State Agency Submits Planning to the Feds to Meet Funding Requirements

The monies will assist in deploying a Texas EV infrastructure to meet future drivers’ needs.

A fleet of electric taxis parked on bricked pavement is pictured, they are white with blue logos.
Advocates, government leaders and various agency representatives have been busy this summer, discussing and disseminating information about creating infrastructure for electric and alternative-fuel vehicles as the federal government begins deploying the NEVI Formula Program.

NEVI, shorthand for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and is administered by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) submitted required state planning July 28 to pave the way to receive some $407.8 million to be split among federal and state agencies, according to its website. The deadline for submissions was Aug. 1.

The planning was created in collaboration with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the State Energy Conservation Office as per federal guidelines.

“The IIJA appropriates at least $7.5 billion in funding applicable for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure through NEVI and the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure discretionary grant program. In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation released guidance to state DOTs for implementation of the NEVI Program that will put the U.S. on a path to a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030,” reads a July 8 piece published in Government Technology.*

The program focuses on charging infrastructure for light-duty vehicles along designated corridors to meet an anticipated growing demand for electric vehicles.

“Starting in 2015 and working with planning partners across the state, TxDOT nominated sections of interstate highways to the Electric Alternative Fuel Corridors,” according to the Texas plan.

This entails installing fast-charging stations along routes to encourage EV adoption.

The plan lists the following in its vision:
  • Expand electric alternative fuel corridors to include almost all non-business interstate routes.
  • Work with the private sector to install DC fast charging stations along corridors according to Federal Highway Administration requirements. TxDOT will not own or operate the charging equipment.
  • Work with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to identify suitable locations to install a combination of Level II and DC fast charging infrastructure inside large urban areas.
  • Work with rural counties and small urban areas to install DC fast charging stations at or near county seats across the state.
  • Collect data from the network to assess use and identify trends for development.

EV planning has been discussed as a way to not only mitigate pollution but also as potential economic stimulation for smaller towns or county seats as people drive these corridors and stop at restaurants, shopping districts or tourist areas while using chargers.

These aspects were discussed during July’s North Texas Commission’s Infrastructure Conference panel “Electric Vehicles … Focus on EV Charging.”

The thrust of marketing EV to the public and to municipalities is reducing air pollution. Tom “Smitty” Smith, of the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance (TxETRA), pointed out the high emissions rates in Dallas and surrounding areas.

“Dallas is remarkable in many ways, but one of the areas it’s failed is air quality has not ever come into attainment in the Dallas area,” he said. “We've spent billions of dollars putting pollution controls on the top of our stacks and our industrial facilities.” However, he continued, implementing more electric vehicles will provide additional mitigation, and Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks agreed.

“We determined that this was the wave of the future, and we needed to get ready,” Brooks said. “The first thing we did is to create an electric vehicle staff working group comprised of representatives from various departments.”

“We’re identifying policies and procedures that must be either put in place or updated that will allow us to be in a position to apply for future funding opportunities. We’re drafting our charging station plan to make electric vehicle charging available to the public, to county departments and county employees.”

Brooks said that the county was planning to purchase five to six EVs for departments that have heavy vehicle use. He said they are following Travis County’s use of EVs for its Sheriff’s Department to see if Tarrant County might replicate it.

Consumer EV demand will be served, but many municipalities have been introducing or plan to introduce electric and alternative vehicles in state and local government as well as K-12 schools.

School bus fleets are part of the larger conversation as the Environmental Protection Agency has been taking grant applications for K-12 schools (many types, not just public) to begin bus fleet conversions.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is the MPO for 12 counties and recently hosted an informational webinar for those wishing to apply for funding with an Aug. 19 deadline.

The Clean School Bus Program is taking applications and will award them in order received; these funds are for low- and no-emissions buses. There is $5 million set aside for schools wishing to purchase new buses or to convert existing vehicles.

As to these larger vehicles, the GovTech opinion piece states that the federal government should be concentrating on medium- and large-duty trucks rather than light-duty vehicles.

“While the U.S. DOT’s guidance specifically details the requirements for light-duty vehicle (LDV) charging infrastructure, it barely addressed the topic for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Despite comprising only 10 percent of the vehicles on the road, medium- and heavy-duty trucks make up 57 percent of harmful particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions and 29 percent of transportation greenhouse gas emissions,” the article reads.

During the NTC conference, Smith said that the mapping from TxDOT was one of the plan pieces that would help people visualize where the charging corridors will be.

“How is this money allocated? It will be allocated based on competitive bids to major charging companies,” Smith said. “And then when most of this money has gone out to the highway in the first round of grants, then it will be allocated to the MPOs. ... So now’s the time to get with the folks at North Central Texas Council of Governments, county courts and your other commissioners, your city councils, to begin to think of where you want these charging stations.”

“It’s our opportunity in this community and many others over Texas to design the future and to begin to put together the plan that is going to enable us to really take advantage of this moment in time and make a transformational difference.”

*Government Technology is Industry Insider — Texas’ sister publication.
Rae D. DeShong is a Dallas-based staff writer and has written for The Dallas Morning News and worked as a community college administrator.