Keeping Texas charged and connected
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Keeping Texas charged and connected

By Kelly Lindner and Ryan LaFontaine

AUSTIN — The Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure grant program is open for applications after the Texas Transportation Commission approved a statement plan to provide charging stations for hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles throughout the state.

The $408 million effort will eventually lead to charging stations spaced no more than 50 miles apart and less than a mile from interstate exits in Phase 1.

Phase 2 will develop stations in all 254 counties and across the 24 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in Texas.

Construction on the charging stations could begin in late 2024 or early 2025. Currently there are more than 217,000 electric vehicles on Texas roads — a number the Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimates could jump to 1 million by 2028.

TxDOT’s new Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan answers these questions and many more. TxDOT created the plan as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021.

The plan had to show the Federal Highway Administration how TxDOT plans to spend budgeted federal money it is receiving for the program.

Under the plan, Texas will receive $407.8 million for fiscal years 2022–2026. The funds are split 80% federal and 20% state but third parties will fund the state’s share, so no state funds will be used. TxDOT will not own or operate charging equipment, but instead contract with private entities for the acquisition, installation, operation and maintenance.

The road to “EV” street

In February 2022, FHWA released guidance on requirements for the deployment plan, which was due Aug. 1, 2022. Those requirements included plans for deployment, existing and future conditions, contracting, implementation, annual program evaluation and documentation of state agency coordination, stakeholder outreach and public engagement — a lot of ground to cover in six months.

Collaborating on the plan were TxDOT’s Administration, Transportation, Planning and Programming, Strategic Planning, Research and Technology Implementation, Environmental Affairs, General Counsel, and Procurement divisions. In addition, other stakeholders were included like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the State Energy Conservation Office, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Houston-Galveston Area Council, fuel retailers, EV charging companies and the public.

“I’d share the draft with the stakeholders and say, ‘Tear it up,’” said Ryan Granger, strategic data research analyst and co-lead of the EV plan team. “Their input really helped our final version. By the end they were saying, ‘You pushed all the right buttons.’”

After posting a draft online for public comment in March, TxDOT began a public involvement effort where the public could plot suggested charging stations with comments and respond to a survey. An email address allowed folks to email comments as well.

“The plan is a result of 200 meetings,” said Michael Chamberlain, the director of data management and co-lead of the plan team. “It also responds to many of the more than 400 public comments. A lot of people had great ideas about where to put charging stations that we added.”

The Texas EV plan includes:

  • A network that would support 1 million EVs in Texas
  • 312 Direct Current Fast Charge, or DCFC, ports at 56 locations spread out at least every 50 miles along interstate highways
  • DCFC EV charging locations no more than 70 miles apart elsewhere in Texas
  • 50% more chargers along the coastline for evacuation purposes
  • Multiple options for routes and charging on all trips
  • Where possible, ports in pull-through spaces for people pulling trailers
  • 1,014 DCFC ports at 190 locations in, or near, county seats
  • 26K+ DCFC and Level II charging ports inside MPOs and urban areas in locations not yet determined

The plan also includes information about how the addition of the 1 million EVs and planned chargers would be minimal to the grid.

“We have a front row seat to the largest transition in transportation in the last 100 years,” Chamberlain said. “I have a hard time containing my enthusiasm for this program. It’s the most important project I will work on in my career. I’m 100% in.”

Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure presentation