Louisiana Clean Fuels, an independent nonprofit affiliated with the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, is helping Louisiana electric vehicle owners by creating a master plan for DC fast charging.
The goal is to create easily accessible charging spots for electric vehicles that are not Teslas (but Tesla owners can use them as well) throughout the state along the state’s Interstate highways. This statewide master plan for a DC fast charging network is designed to meet the standards of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Alternative Fuel Corridors signage program.
In 2017, the State of Louisiana submitted its proposal to the FHWA for alternative fuel corridors. The state also submitted proposals for three fuels along a specific section of our interstate system (20, 10, and 49). The only fuel that did not qualify for signage was charging stations for electric vehicles. FHWA guidelines dictate that DC fast chargers need to be spaced a maximum of 50 miles apart and be located within 5 miles of an interstate. These chargers must also be available to the public for the corridor to be eligible for a sign.
If you look at the above sign that shows the beginning of our alternative fuel corridor, you can see there is a blank spot set aside for EV charging. This signage is a result of the teamwork that both the State of Louisiana and Louisiana Clean Fuels took part in. Until Louisiana has a network of DC fast charging stations, this spot will be left blank. This is where Louisiana Clean Fuels comes in with its Master Plan.
Louisiana Clean Fuels & the Master Plan
Not wanting to leave the design and development of a fast-charging network to chance, Ann Vail, the executive director of Louisiana Clean Fuels, brought together a team of experts ranging from data, OEMs, and EVSE while also bringing in electric utilities and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to work on a two-part plan. The first part creates the business case for potential charging sites that are backed up by data that helps identify the best locations for the DC fast chargers along our interstates.
The data is a mix of highway data and EV adoption data from multiple sources along with existing charging infrastructure. The data was used to locate optimal locations that are also co-located with shopping, restaurants, or recreational areas for the Louisiana DC fast charging sites.
Part two of the master plan has the coalition conducting regional outreach meetings in the different territories across the state. Partnered up with many of the state’s major utility companies, Louisiana Clean Fuels is hosting these meetings with area businesses, planners, and elected officials in order to bring about local acceptance and demand for stable EVSE charging infrastructure along these critical corridors.
How Louisiana EV Owners Have Helped
Louisiana Clean Fuels launched a crowdsourcing website where electric vehicle owners helped by inputting their thoughts on where these charging locations should be. Post offices, shopping centers, and local grocery stores such as Rouses were all mentioned as potential charging sites. A Chevy Bolt owner said that once a month they travel between New Orleans and Lafayette with a battery range of 238 miles. They mentioned that the most important feature or amenity at a charging location would be very fast charging capability. Electric vehicle owners who participated in this project were able to discuss potential sites and vote for or against sites nominated by other EV owners. The data from the crowdsourcing website gives a certain perspective that numbers on a spreadsheet just can’t.
While Louisiana Clean Fuels and its partners have completed the analysis, they have yet to publish a formal paper with their findings and recommendations. For now, LCF and its partners are working fast and furiously, maps in hand, to spread the word about a potential funding source for charging site hosts before their window of opportunity closes. Louisiana’s Volkswagen Environmental Trust fund could be Louisiana’s best shot at helping electric vehicle owners hit the road and leave “range anxiety” behind. The current proposal period opened on August 1st and closes on October 1, 2019. Visit the Louisiana Clean Fuels website for more information.