The northeast corridor, from the Washington DC metro area to Maine, is a heavily populated area that is poised to become one of the world’s leading electric vehicle (EV) markets. Working collaboratively, a dozen northeast US states developed a set of recommendations titled the “Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure” to advance public and private investments in electric car charging and increase the use of electric cars throughout the region. The strategy incorporates input from automobile manufacturers, utilities, EV charging companies, and others.
On May 16, 2018, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia announced support for expanding the network of fast charging stations along their heavily traveled corridors. The recommendations included utility actions to lower the costs of charging at home, especially at multi-unit dwellings where high upfront installation costs such as electrical infrastructure upgrades can be a barrier. The Strategy also outlined state incentives and outreach programs to promote workplace charging.
Facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), the multi-state effort attempts to balance EV market penetration goals for the northeast corridor alongside consumer concerns about the availability of charging locations and the time to recharge.
Northeast Charging Infrastructure Issues
The Strategy acknowledges that the establishment of a “robust and reliable charging network” is contingent on resolution of important overarching issues that could be determinative of consumer acceptance and the near-term economic viability of public charging.
Interoperability. Electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) must be equipped to enable payment options without restriction based on network membership or subscription. To facilitate this, multi-state workgroups must be formed to consider network interoperability requirements.
Regulation of EVSE Providers. EVSE providers must be exempt from regulation as public service companies.
Residential TOU Rates. PUC proceedings must be open to consider residential variable EV rates or alternatives with similar benefits.
Demand Charges. PUC proceedings must be open to consider options to reduce demand charges.
Future Proofing. Electrical infrastructure supports must ensure > 150kW DC fast charging stations for long distance travel. Also, sites must be designed to allow for additional charging capacity and stations.
Data Collection. Data collection and reporting requirements must be established.
Uptime. Station maintenance and repair requirements must be established. Real-time info on operational status must be provided to EV users, which likely includes installing multiple stations to ensure service.
Pricing Transparency. Device or payment screens must display real time pricing and fee info.
Signage. Alternative EV charging symbols for wayfinding signs as well as regulatory signs to restrict parking and optimize use of EVSE should be implemented.
Building Codes. Residential and commercial building codes should be amended to mandate makeready charging infrastructure. Local EV ordinances, too, should be enacted that require EV-ready parking spaces.
ADA Compliance. Building codes should be amended or communities should adopt state guidelines to require ADA accessibility for EVSE.
Streamlined EVSE Permitting. Workgroups should be convened to develop recommendations for streamlined EVSE permitting.
Low-Income & Disadvantaged Communities. Workgroups should be formed to identify and address barriers to clean mobility.
Coordination with Other EV Charging Initiatives
Electrify America, part of a legal settlement between the federal government and Volkswagen addressing Clean Air Act violation claims, is designating $2 billion to promote electric vehicles, which will include substantial infrastructure investments in the Northeast Corridor. A key objective of the Strategy is to coordinate these and other investments to create a charging network with the capacity to serve the millions of electric cars in the next decade.
“While these states are already making substantial investments in charging infrastructure and offering a range of policies and programs to promote driving electric, the Strategy will help accelerate awareness of the growing number of charging stations and ensure the deployment of a robust charging network that meets the needs of the growing and projected community of electric car drivers,” said Elaine O’Grady, a senior policy advisor at NESCAUM working on both the ‘Drive Change. Drive Electric’ campaign and the “Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.”
As these states and Washington DC share similar air quality and energy concerns, the value of working cooperatively toward an important common goal of preparing now for the increasing numbers of electric vehicles on the roads becomes essential. Janet Coit, Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, summed up the necessity of the Strategy for the northeast corridor. “Having more electric cars on the roads will also help mitigate the effects of global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
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