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Funding & Incentives

How to Obtain Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Grants in California

April 21, 2023

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California’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure could use a major upgrade, as Cal Matters’ Nadia Lopez points out. To build the 1.2 million public chargers the state will need in the next seven years, gas station owners and charging station companies will need to find and apply for federal EV charging infrastructure incentives and grants.

If you’re considering adding a charging station to your California facility or adding more EV charging equipment to your existing assets, you’ll need to do some research to find what federal incentives you can take advantage of to boost profits. To start you on the road to success, the EV Charging Summit staff has answered some of the most common questions commercial property owners and urban planners ask.

How Much Federal Funding Is Available for EV Charging Infrastructure in California?

As part of the federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, California will receive $384 million over five years to construct a network of EV fleet charging stations along interstate exits and national highways, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC). The first round of funding will only be available for charging station construction on the state’s alternative fuel corridors.

What Are the EV Charging Plug Standards to Qualify for NEVI Funding?

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To obtain NEVI funding, a fast charge station must provide at least four 150kW combined charging system (CCS) connectors, providing users with 600 kW in total power.

Which California Agencies Will Administer the NEVI Program?

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the lead NEVI agency, has partnered with the CEC to allocate NEVI federal funding. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) will require Caltrans to submit an annual allocation plan that details how it plans to distribute the funds.

State funding will supplement the NEVI program in California. With the state’s stringent vehicle sales standards phasing out sales of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by the year 2035, the state government will expand its supplemental funding to $3 billion by 2026.

What Is the Timeline for the Future of EV Fleet Management in California?

EV fleet management for larger vehicles, too, will require more charging stations throughout California in the coming years. By 2045, all companies that use new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the state must switch to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Those new standards make it a prudent strategy for California gas stations, hospitality providers, and retailers to expand their offerings to include EV charging stations.

For that reason, getting in on the ground floor of this growing industry is essential if your business wants to ride the wave of the future. Adding EV charging equipment is a move that can put you out in front of your competitors for years to come.

When Do I Need to Submit My Application for Federal EV Charging Infrastructure?

California officials plan to develop funding application requirements and scoring criteria through public workshops throughout 2023. They also will consider residents’ and industry professionals’ comments as they plan how they will implement the program. After the requirements are in place, the state will begin accepting applications, probably in late 2023 or early 2024.

Are There Any Requirements Already on the Books?

In addition to the EV charging plug standards, the federal government requires that states award 40% of EV charging infrastructure funding to low-income, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities. If your company or non-profit plans to apply for NEVI benefits, it would be beneficial to choose a site for your EV charging station in one of these California locations.

Alternatively, if you already own a gas station, retail store, or hospitality business in such locations, you should consider applying for funding to expand your services to include EV charging to give you a better chance of obtaining a federal grant or other incentives.

In addition, the NEVI funding programs will exclude charging stations in locations more than one mile from a national highway or freeway exit. If you’re planning to apply for federal funding, make sure that you choose a site well within those limits.

What Funds Will I Have to Provide to Qualify for NEVI Funding?

Tentatively, California’s NEVI deployment plan currently also includes a requirement that private-sector applicants must provide at least a 20% funding match.

How Can I Apply for Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Grants in California?

California plans to begin the application process for EV charging infrastructure grants and incentives later this year or early in 2024, so applications are not currently available. However, you should follow all the latest developments in the NEVI program so that you can adjust your plans accordingly.

What Can I Use Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Grants to Fund?

If you receive a federal grant under the NEVI program, you can use your funds for the following items and activities:

  • Purchase and installation of EV charging infrastructure (Check out our recommended EV charging station solutions)
  • Costs of operating and maintaining EV charging equipment for fewer than five years
  • Purchase and installation of traffic control equipment to direct customers to the chargers
  • Designing and purchasing signs that provide information about how to use your charging equipment
  • Forecasting, mapping, planning, and development expenses for your EV charging station

How Can I Maximize Profits from My EV Charging Business?

Qualifying and applying for federal EV charging infrastructure grants should be topmost on your to-do list. However, other strategies can help you make the most of your funding should you receive a grant.

Since current fast-charging EV technology requires anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to fully charge a vehicle, it pays to offer other services so that your customers can spend money in your establishment instead of at your competitor’s facility across the street.

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Convenience stores already have a presence at gas stations, where the profit margin is so low that most owners need to offer more products that yield higher profits. Similarly, charging stations should follow their lead since EV charging also has a low-profit margin.

Restaurants also provide an opportunity for owners to bring in more customers during the time they spend charging their vehicles. Many travel plazas along California highways also offer other merchandise, such as clothing, vehicle accessories, and jewelry. EV charging stations could follow their lead to increase profits.

Attend an EV Charging Summit Event to Discover the Latest Industry Developments

Meeting with other industry professionals and hearing from the EV industry’s top experts can provide you with information to help you better your chances of obtaining federal funding for your EV charging station. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

At an EV Charging Summit event, you’ll also learn about the latest developments in EV technology and facility construction, discover how to navigate the bureaucratic red tape, and build a network of industry professionals as passionate as you are about the potential of EVs. Learn more about upcoming EV Charging Summit events today!

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