All 50 states will deploy federal NEVI funds to build out the national EV charging network and kill gasmobiles, anti-woke or not (photo courtesy of Freewire Technologies).

EV Charging Station Sneak Coming Soon To A Gas Station Near You

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Electric vehicle fans got a huge boost when the White House unveiled the nation’s first ever national EV charging standards earlier this week, except maybe for those who were hoping for Tesla’s North American Standard to prevail. The new standards are not that. They come under the federal government’s new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which aims to make recharging an EV battery as simple, seamless and standardized as filling up a gas tank.

What Is The NEVI EV Charging Program?

The new standards apply to all federally funded public EV charging stations, including those funded through the NEVI program, which comes under Federal Highway Administration, which is a branch of the US Department of Transportation.

NEVI is a $5 billion federal funding program established through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As described by the Transportation Department, the program “provides funding to States to strategically deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and to establish an interconnected network to facilitate data collection, access, and reliability.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a job creation windfall for states, so let’s give credit where credit is due. The bill sailed through the House with all Democratic Representatives voting in favor, though it only garnered 13 votes on the Republican side. Republicans in the Senate showed a little more enthusiasm, but not much. 19 Republican Senators voted in favor, but 30 voted against it.

Nevertheless, the bill passed the Senate with all Democrats voting in favor, and President Biden signed it into law on November 15, 2021.  The rest is history, including the newly announced EV charging standards.

The new standards cover more than the charging plug. They apply to EV charging on a soup-to-nuts basis, from hardware to traffic control, connectivity and mapping apps.

EV Charging Sneak Attack On Gas Stations

If the ultimate aim of the new standards is to make EV charging “as easy as filling up at a gas station” — which it is — then EV charging at gas stations is a natural outcome.

In fact, EV charging stations have already been appearing at gas stations. They’re an especially good fit for locations with convenience stores and restrooms. By the time you finish your other transactions, your EV battery is topped off, or close to it.

The new standards will kick the gas station activity up to the next level. Among the NEVI commitments listed by the White House in a press release last week is The Pilot Company, which is on board with its network of 500 Pilot and Flying J travel centers in partnership with General Motors and EVgo. Similarly, TravelCenters of America has committed 200 of its Travel Centers and Petro locations.

In an interesting twist, bp has been eyeballing TravelCenters of America for acquisition. The deal was finalized on February 15, the same day as the NEVI announcement.

That brings things full circle for bp, which has partnered with Hertz in support of NEVI. The two companies are planning to building EV charging hubs in cities with a focus on rideshare vehicles, rental vehicles, and taxis along with general public charging.

EV Charging At Gas Stations: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Installing an EV charging station is not a particularly simple task, as described in detail by CleanTechnica’s Jennifer Sensiba last December. Coming up with some kind of modular, turnkey package would help, and that ‘s just what she found at a Phillips 66 station in Houston.

The charging station in question was manufactured by the company FreeWire Technologies, which has been popping up regularly on the CleanTechnica radar (our complete coverage is here). The basic idea is to integrate energy storage into an all-in-one package, which eliminates the need to install new high-voltage lines.

FreeWire’s contribution to the NEVI network is a potential mind-bender. The company has already prepped a NEVI guide to smooth the process for funding applicants, and it already has relationships with gas station stakeholders. Aside from Phillips 66, last September FreeWire announced a similar deal with Chevron and Texaco branded stations.

The last time we checked, Phillips had more than 2,500 locations in the US. Chevron and Texaco had about 8,000 between them.

Up, Up, & Away For Seamless EV Charging

FreeWire could be the secret weapon in the Biden Administration electrification plan. The modular, all-in-one setup provides for quick installation and more flexibility in site selection compared to conventional EV charging stations.

The company is apparently already prepping a huge increase in sales.

“FreeWire announced a new 66,000 square foot global headquarters in Newark, CA, a $20 million investment that will focus on R&D and manufacturing of ultrafast EV charging equipment and more than 200 well-paying engineering and manufacturing jobs in electrification and clean energy across the community,” stated the White House in a fact sheet that described all the anticipated activity around NEVI (here’s that link again).

“Woke Capitalism” Meets Federal Funding, Caves

As for which states have been vying for a share of the $5 billion NEVI pot, that’s easy: all of them. State-level transportation agencies in all 50 states are participating in the program.

That’s kind of embarrassing for a number of Republicans members of Congress, who have been threatening to punish investment firms that support clean tech in the service of something bad called “woke capitalism.” Perhaps they didn’t get the EV charging memo from their own transportation officials.

It’s not just members of Congress. Republican office holders in almost two dozen states have also taken to bleating about “woke capitalism,” even while their transportation agencies rake in the big bucks to help kick the vehicle electrification movement into high gear.

Looking at you, Florida Governor Ron DiSantis. Your state is getting $198 million in NEVI funding over the next five years to install more EV infrastructure and kill gasmobiles, despite your attacks on corporate ESG (environment, social, governance) investing.

Another epicenter of the woke capitalism canard is Texas, where both Republican US Senator Ted Cruz and Republican Governor Gregg Abbott have been slinging the woke capitalism canard with carefree abandon, seemingly unaware that their state is getting $408 million in NEVI funding for worry-free EV driving from one end of the state to another.

Then there’s Virginia, where Governor Glenn Youngkin turned down Ford’s new LFP battery factory, costing his state thousands of jobs. Virginia won’t get those jobs, but it will get $100 million in NEVI funding to build out its EV charging station network.

All four of these office holders are eyeballing the Oval Office, so don’t expect them to change their tune as the 2024 election cycle heats up.

Follow me on Trainwreck Twitter @TinaMCasey.

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Photo (cropped, brightened): Modular EV charging station courtesy of Freewire.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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