Categories
EV Infrastructure

3 Examples of EV Readiness Plans Across America

Residents of even the most underdeveloped areas deserve a chance to choose to buy and drive an electric vehicle. Learn how an EV readiness plan can give those areas opportunities to thrive through more EV charging options.

Image via Freepik

Gas Vehicle Range Anxiety Leads to an EV Revelation

Image via Freepik

One of our EV Charging Summit writers just returned from a trip through the heart of Appalachia. Her experience opened her eyes to how urgent EV readiness is across the nation’s most sparsely populated areas.

Traveling in an inherited gas-guzzling SUV, she took the scenic route to see family on the East Coast. What she didn’t know was that there were few gas stations still open in the mountainous area her GPS routed her through.

It was her first time to experience range anxiety. In a gas-powered vehicle, no less.

Finally, after miles of driving on fumes, she found a modern station at the crossroads of two major interstates and a national highway. That station, however, also had EV chargers. After paying over $60 to fill up her car, she got an idea.

What about all those abandoned gas stations she saw during her long trek through the Appalachian wilderness? Could someone with vision restore them, convert them into EV charging stations, and give the rundown towns some hope?

An EV readiness plan could help, she thought. Those homespun restaurants and general stores forced to close when the gas stations left could flourish again if only the communities would support the infrastructure that could make that idea come to life. And, with EVs’ range and affordability increasing with every iteration, EV adoption is now possible in even the most rural areas in the country.

Learning about those communities who made it happen is a great place for you to start building your own community’s readiness plan. Here are a couple of examples that can provide just the inspiration you need to get the ball rolling toward EV readiness.

Rural America: The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission EV Readiness Plan

Image via Freepik

Not far from the area where our writer wandered on her trip to the East Coast, the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission began its study of the existing EV charging infrastructure in its 11-county southern Ohio region in the Appalachian foothills. The study, started in January 2024, aims to use its analysis of resources it already has as a springboard to identify what infrastructure it lacks.

Identifying this region’s needs will enable the commission to best take advantage of the EV infrastructure funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as state and local opportunities.

After identifying their current resources and needs, the commission worked with consultants and local leaders to create the plan, starting with the overarching vision they hoped to realize. Then, they researched the EV adoption rate in the state and found that it was “growing at a fast rate.”

To meet the demand for charging infrastructure these new EV owners in their region will need, the commission drew up both short-term and long-term strategies to meet EV drivers’ need for charging stations throughout the area and infrastructure to support them. The commission also identified and recommended the most viable sites for public charging stations and how they will implement the plan.

Underlying their plan are three specific goals that commission members and their partners in the business, government, and non-profit sectors can check their progress against. Having specific, measurable goals can keep an EV readiness plan on track rather than allowing local politics and personal differences to sidetrack their effort.

Urban America: SEMPO’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan

Rural communities aren’t the only areas that lack fueling opportunities. Many urban communities, too, have often fallen into disrepair. Crime and poverty have caused businesses, including fueling stations, to leave these areas. Finding a safe place to fuel one’s car can prove a challenge in an urban environment as well.

Enter Missouri’s Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization (SEMPO). Its mission centers around developing and updating “a long-range transportation plan for the metropolitan area covering a planning horizon for at least 20 years that fosters (1) mobility and access for people and goods, (2) efficient system performance and preservation, and (3) quality of life.” To achieve its mission, the organization created an extensive EV readiness plan to provide the area with the infrastructure necessary to support EV drivers in the urban area.

While a full treatment of the 193-page document that details the plan is well beyond the scope of this post, it’s well worth the time to look at the basics that helped the organization get its plug-in EV readiness plan off the ground.

Like their Appalachian compatriots, the urban organization started with the challenges the region’s residents faced. Those challenges included:

  • Not enough EV charging infrastructure and information about where to find those that are in the area
  • A regional plan to find locations for public charging stations
  • Difficulty obtaining permits for new charging stations
  • A lack of charging stations at multi-unit residential facilities
  • Few workplaces and businesses offer employees and customers EV charging opportunities
  • Stifling zoning, parking, and building codes
  • Training in EV charging technology for the city’s staff and electrical contractors
  • Utilities with little to no flexibility in charging rates

Then, the organization engaged local residents, business owners, public agencies, charging station owners, fleet management services, and other stakeholders to create a plan to overcome these challenges. Using an online survey to identify knowledge gaps around EV technology and existing charging opportunities around the area, SEMPO formulated a readiness plan that would eventually make the region “an electric vehicle…destination” that would not only serve its residents but also provide EV-owning tourists with an attractive place to visit where range anxiety was the least of their worries.

To support the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the plan, SEMPO conducted a technical analysis that could help them realize the goals they set out to achieve. On the human side of things, the organization coordinated with “state, regional, and local agencies…as well as members of the public,” conducting meetings and a public survey to ensure that they have addressed all their stakeholders’ concerns.

The plan included the following overall objectives (p. 14):

  • Adapt the area’s transportation infrastructure to encourage more people and businesses to consider EVs.
  • Facilitate the transition to high-tech infrastructure with strategic partnerships and investment.
  • Educate the public and local organizations about the benefits of EV adoption.
  • Coordinate with other urban planning organizations, local communities, agencies, and other stakeholders to adopt EV best practices standards.

Under each of those objectives, SEMPO leadership laid out detailed steps (pp. 70-74) that would help them achieve each goal and a timeline so they could measure their progress toward meeting them. With such a well-thought plan, the region should be well on its way toward supporting a robust EV infrastructure and, even more importantly, supporting the most vulnerable members of its community with jobs and dependable transportation.

Suburban America: 16 Suburban Chicago Mayors Promote EV Readiness

Joining forces with Chicago-area utility ComEd, 16 suburban Chicago Mayors in the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus launched a program to prepare their suburban communities for the coming “charging station boom,” according to the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

Image via Freepik

Part of suburban Chicago’s Cross Community Climate Collaborative, a group launched to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions in the region by 2050, the EV readiness program will use ComEd’s $225,000 grant to train support personnel and supply the infrastructure to help the area transition to EVs. In addition, the group plans to engage the community in the effort, assist charging station and infrastructure providers in obtaining the proper permits to do business, and enact “safe and smart EV policies and practices.”

Since smaller, suburban communities might miss out on the federal and state funding that focuses on more needy areas, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus will help stakeholders obtain the funds they need to install enough EV chargers to serve suburbanites’ needs. Local funding, too, will play a part in the initiative. With ComEd providing an EV toolkit to current and prospective EV owners, area residents will have a wealth of information at their fingertips to help them find rebates, rate plans, charging station locations, and cost-saving options that will help ease their transition to EVs.

Additionally, Cook County will provide an additional $5.5 million to install more new EV charging in the Chicago suburbs. With all this community support, the mayors’ plan looks headed for success.

Your Community’s EV Readiness Plan

Image via Freepik

The key to success in developing an EV readiness plan is to identify your community’s unique needs and build your strategy around those needs. Whether it’s a simple plan, as the regional organization in Appalachia devised, or a detailed white paper with every detail laid out, what’s important is that you gather the kind of stakeholders willing to carry out the plan and adapt it to changing needs.

While the US Department of Energy has provided guidelines to help communities prepare for the onslaught of EVs over the next few years, it’s essential for your readiness plan to conform to your community’s preferences and challenges.

One of the best ways to alert yourself to those concerns is to network with people who have walked in your shoes. At the next EV Charging Summit event, you can meet industry professionals from diverse communities who have likely faced challenges similar to those your region faces. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet industry experts and community leaders whose advice can help your community develop its own EV readiness plan. Reserve your place at the next event today!

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!