Why I Spend Time On This
One of the things I like to cover here at CleanTechnica is upcoming DC fast charge stations. While in reality, the average EV driver will rarely use one, it’s still a big factor in whether someone will buy an EV. If you’re on the fence about buying an electric vehicle, chances are you want to know whether you’ll be able to take it different places, even if you only go occasionally. If a friend shows you a website like Plugshare or ABRP, seeing that there are more stations under construction means that the utility of your car is going to grow, making it a wiser purchase.
In places like California, where EV charging stations are relatively common, future charging stations aren’t a big deal for a purchasing decision. Once you’ve sat in line a few times, that becomes a big deal, but just being able to get somewhere at all definitely beats having no way to get there in a reasonable time frame.
But, if you live in someplace like eastern New Mexico or west Texas, where there are huge swaths of land without a DCFC station, future stations make a big difference. Going from not being able to go more than half the car’s range from home to being able to get to the nearest electrified interstate corridor makes a big difference in what you can do with the car. Even if you don’t live in a rural area, you may want to visit, so this helps “city slickers” just the same.
That’s why I’ve worked with companies like Electrify America in the past to get them to publish more data on upcoming chargers (something they seem to have lapsed on again in recent months), and we try to keep an eye on the information the EV enthusiast community digs up on where we can expect future stations. The more we can get the word out there that more stations are on the way, the quicker EV sales will take off everywhere.
Upcoming Stations In Eastern New Mexico Were Big News For Some Of Us
Just over a year ago, I covered an exciting expansion of charging infrastructure that was happening in the area. Not only would the bigger highways going to get some love, but all of the larger towns (by local standards) had a station coming.
Francis Energy will construct most of the new stations, which will be situated at Allsup’s convenience stores throughout the state. Some people might see this simply as good news for Allsup’s burrito fans (admittedly, they’re not exactly healthy, but they taste amazing!). However, it was actually ideal that Allsup’s store locations are so widespread across the state, which makes them an excellent partner for hosting DCFC stations.
All of this is happening with #Dieselgate funds, so EV fanatics who were good at researching public documents found the rough location of these future stations quickly. But, that didn’t mean that Francis or Allsup’s was ready to build all of those stations that year, or the next. So far, only a few of the stations have been put in, and people commenting on Plugshare are starting to get frustrated.
What was particularly frustrating for some drivers is that the wiring had mostly been done, but progress just stopped with conduit and wire sticking out of the ground for months at some locations.
Why The Stations Haven’t Been Built Yet
Seeing all this, I reached out to Francis Energy, and it turns out that they have a pretty solid excuse for delayed station building in most places. Almost as soon as the #Dieselgate funds were announced, the Coronavirus lockdowns and “essential business” stuff was at its worst. Even when vaccines hit the market and things opened up, supply chains have still been problematic. So, Francis has had a tough time coming up with complete stations and other parts to install at the Allsup’s stores.
On top of these delays was how quickly users on Plugshare found out about the upcoming stations. Francis says this was “premature,” which may not be the best way to describe this, but it was certainly information that came out long before stations would be expected even in normal times. So, the early information combined with supply issues has made the wait feel especially long.
When We Should Expect More Stations To Go Online
Francis Energy says that they’ve managed to work through some of the backlog and they’re starting to get more supplies in to continue construction. We should expect five more stations to go online before the end of 2022 (that’s only 2.5 months or so now), with more stations to follow early in 2023.
They couldn’t tell us exactly where the next five stations will go up, but for the EV sleuths out there, you might go out and look because they said some were already under construction.
Even 5 more stations, especially if the most charging-barren places get them next, would make a big difference for people who live in and visit eastern New Mexico.
More Will Come Later
It’s important to keep in mind that these new stations coming up will only provide a very basic level of service for EV drivers. They’re far, far better than nothing, but with relatively slow speeds and only two stalls per site, there’s a lot of room for future growth.
Fortunately, that’s happening. Specifics aren’t out yet, but the Infrastructure Bill funds (aka NEVI) are going to be used to install more stations with four stalls and 150 kW speeds throughout both Texas and New Mexico in the coming years. Texas plans to put one per county with the funds, while New Mexico is taking more of a corridor-based approach. But, either way, the initial buildout Francis is doing isn’t going to be the only thing around in coming years.
For now, the best thing EV drivers can do is practice good charging etiquette. Don’t charge past 80% unless you really need that extra range (charging slows down after 80% anyway), don’t leave your car in the space when it’s done charging, and don’t charge at DCFC stations unless you’ve got no other way to charge for normal local driving. Doing all of these things can help us all get more good from what’s there while we wait for more infrastructure.
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