New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico was the first state to submit its EV charging plan to the federal government was introduced last week as a prerequisite for receiving funds from the infrastructure bills EV charging fund. The idea, however, wasn’t without criticism because many people in the state and even some journalists don’t comprehend the intricacies of politics and the legislative process.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND Money was included in last year’s infrastructure bill to help Biden’s 500,000 EV charging stations become a reality. The funds are a part of a $3 trillion infrastructure project meant to boost employment and move the US toward more environmentally friendly energy sources.
States must abide by certain requirements for station placement and specifications in order to receive funding for station construction. These requirements include:
50-mile intervals between charging stations on interstate highways Each location has four 150 kW stations. sufficient to simultaneously operate all four stations at 150 kW States may request exclusions when building stations would be prohibitively difficult, but they may also use financing to build charging stations that use renewable energy sources. Additionally, once the interstate corridors are finished, they can utilize the remaining cash for stations in their states to install urban chargers, fill in charging gaps in other corridors, etc.
While the other states were getting ready to submit their plans, New Mexico was wrapping up. We’ve reported about the procedures other states like Texas, Arizona, and Washington have been employing to collect public input. The state filed its plans on July 13. If this proposal interests you, you can read the entire document here, but I’ll hit the highlights right away.
Early on, I saw something quite intriguing: there was a ton of public feedback. One of the most important recommendations the public gave the state was that charging stations should be positioned so that they first and foremost close charging gaps. Interstates played a significant role, but rural areas were also quite significant.
I believe it accomplished that purpose when taking into account how they created the strategy and what New Mexico ended up with. New Mexico appears to want to limit interstate pricing to the federal minimums, similar to Arizona. There are just three interstates in the state, which is not to say they aren’t essential. US and state highways crisscross the remainder of the state; according to one estimate I once read, despite being nearly the same area as its neighbor Arizona, New Mexico has twice as many roadway miles.
The majority of the money will be left over to meet the needs of the rest of the state if interstate spending is kept to a minimum.
Instead of selecting particular locations, they recognized the gaps, found the exits that provided electricity and amenities in those gaps, and then chose locations along the interstates in order to place the charging stations. Then, they inquired about hosting other sites with well-known shops and convenience stores like Allsups and 7-11. In the end, they only need to locate particular host sites in the blue sections of the map. This both responds to federal inquiries and gives the state adequate leeway to complete the planning and installation.
The location of rural stations is discussed less in detail later in the plan, but it is still a continuous process that will leave money for those areas.
Overall, it appears to be a fantastic strategy.
However, most people just do not understand what is happening. It’s obvious from reading the state’s newspapers that New Mexicans (even journalists) simply don’t grasp what’s going on. Many New Mexicans find it difficult to understand the intricacy of federal funding, the several stages of planning and implementation (interstates followed by other routes), and the funding that is specifically allocated for EV charging.
Facebook comments for these articles are a fairly reliable indicator that misconceptions about the EV charging scheme are widespread (even if Facebook is usually a dumpster fire). Several comments questioned if it would be preferable for the government to use the funds for anything else, such as oil infrastructure, or just to provide more food for the needy. These folks, who are numerous, are unaware that the state is powerless in this situation. Without fail, the money must be used for EV charging.
There were numerous other remarks that were even more dumb, such as the claim that since there aren’t any rolling blackouts in New Mexico, we can’t possibly add any more EVs to the state’s grid. But I don’t want to subject the readers of CleanTechnica to endless FUD that we have already seen a trillion times.
The Associated Press’s publication of a commentary by a Carlsbad, New Mexico, newspaper employee who claimed that the state prioritized interstate EV charging over rural charging was stunning enough.
Will New Mexico’s rural communities get electric vehicle chargers? is the title of the article. A state plan that emphasizes cities stated the following:
The state of New Mexico presented its proposal to spend $38 million in federal funds to build a network of electric vehicle chargers across the state, initially concentrating on metropolitan regions where the use of the vehicles is highest before expanding to rural areas.
The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure initiative, through which states applied for funding to boost the usage of electric vehicles, was one of the programs funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last year.
By 2030, the federal government wants 500,000 chargers deployed.
According to a report from the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, this will result in the construction of about 20 new stations along interstate corridors in New Mexico and the upgrade of existing stations to Level 3 chargers, which can fully charge a vehicle in about 30 to 45 minutes for less than $20.
The article continues to mention that there is a plan for rural charging, but it is not made clear why it is necessary for the federal government to complete interstate construction before moving on to rural roadways and other infrastructure. They are causing controversy by arguing that the state doesn’t care about rural communities because it is building those stations first in accordance with federal legislation and using federal cash.
I don’t want to criticize my home state, yet it sometimes be difficult to refrain. With the exception of negative things like drunk driving deaths, where we typically rank #1 or #2, New Mexico is frequently ranked #49 or #50 in state rankings for practically anything. It’s challenging to get out of that hole, and it doesn’t help if other crabs in the bucket are attempting to drag you back in.
Screenshots from the NMDOT EV charging plan were used for all the images in this article.
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