I-25 Southern Stretch Is Finally Getting Some EV Rapid Charging Love

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There’s an interesting geographical oddity for CCS drivers in southern New Mexico. If you want to drive to Phoenix, Arizona, it’s not that hard. Electrify America has put in stations in Deming and Lordsburg, and there are plenty of stations after that to get you to Phoenix and many points beyond without having to spend hours at an RV park or something. Car dealership CCS stations in Las Cruces and Alamogordo extend the range of this easy EV reach toward the southeast part of the state as well.

But, driving to Albuquerque is another matter. Despite being less than half the distance away, the travel time for a CCS car can be atrocious. While Tesla drivers have long had a station in Truth or Consequences, everyone else has nothing between Las Cruces and Albuquerque. There are Level 2 stations in T or C and Socorro, but that would add a number of hours to any trip, depending on the EV. This lack of stations also makes traveling to places east and west of the interstate corridor a lot harder.

Fortunately, a recent announcement and some EV charging fanatics bring us some good news that’s going to better connect the state for EV drivers.

Progress in Truth or Consequences

I’ve written several articles about the slow progress of Francis Energy in building planned stations in the state. While details have been a little sparse, the company has told me that they were dealing with supply chain shortages that kept them from building quickly, and it appears that they changed their plans to build faster stations with a second round of Dieselgate funds. With this second funding round and supply chain issues starting to ease up, we’re starting to see construction resume at several sites in New Mexico.

Screenshot from Plugshare.com showing the station construction.

A few weeks ago, a PlugShare user (Jacob) stopped by the Elephant Butte Fast Stop convenience store where the station is supposed to get put in. According to Jacob, they were trenching for electrical conduit, so hopefully the station should come in the next few months. Francis Energy responded to the check-in, thanking him but stopping short of fully confirming that work had started.

Given the locations of trenching in the drone images Jacob provided, it does seem pretty obvious that it’s for EV charging, though. So, we likely will see some stations put in this year.

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Socorro’s Finally Going To Get Some Help

In a previous article, I was excited about a new charging station coming in Socorro, but alas, it was not actually going to happen anytime soon. It turned out that the governor’s staff brought out a fake ChargePoint charging station to Socorro for a photo opportunity, and then loaded it back in the truck and left. The original press release said the station would be online in a few weeks, but that was July 2022, and there’s still no sign of construction at the Plaza.

We have no idea what the current plan is for that station, or whether the governor intended to be deceptive, but it’s pretty clear that nobody should count on the station happening anytime soon. 

But there are two reasons to still be optimistic about charging in Socorro: Electrify America and Tesla.

Screenshot from Electrify America’s website.

Without an announcement, a new “coming soon” station popped up on Electrify America’s station map. Specifically, it’s going in somewhere in the parking lot of the Best Western motel, which is exactly where the new Tesla Supercharger is located. Details on the number of stations have not been released, but Electrify America typically puts in four stalls, and sometimes six or eight for areas where they expect heavier use.

This new station will definitely affect New Mexico’s infrastructure bill charging plans. To be compliant with the Infrastructure Bill, New Mexico will need to put stations every 50 miles along interstate highways or have a good reason to ask for a waiver for longer gaps (meant for things like lack of electrical infrastructure). At each of these stations, at least four 150 kW or greater charging stalls are required, and they have to have CCS plugs. This is exactly what Electrify America typically builds, and it’s stopped putting CHAdeMO plugs at new stations, so there will be four CCS stalls and no need to limit to 50 or 100 kW.

Adding an Electrify America station in Socorro sits right in one of the zones where state officials say they want to put an Infrastructure Bill compliant station, so this puts the state ahead on its plans for the I-25 corridor. That this is so perfect for the plan could be more than a coincidence, and could in fact be funded with NEVI funds. I shot Electrify America an email, and will update readers once we hear something back.

Another possible way that Socorro could get a few more stations would be with Tesla’s Magic Dock, which adds built-in CCS adapters to their stations. There’s no indication that the company plans to add Magic Dock to these new stations, but it’s something that they could end up doing, and possibly before the state gets around to adding stations at the Socorro Plaza. That having been said, it seems less likely that they’d do this very soon because Electrify America is going to be in the same parking lot.

These Stations Will Open Up A Lot More Than Drives Between Las Cruces & Albuquerque

Once stations are put in at both Truth or Consequences and Socorro, it’s important to point out that travel along the interstates is not the only thing that these stations would greatly help with.

Looking at this screenshot from PlugShare.com, we can see this in perspective. There will still be a big charging dead zone west of I-25 in New Mexico, but a good chunk of this area is wilderness lands. For people trying to visit places like the Very Large Array and (for cars with longer range) drive from Socorro to Show Low on US-60, the Socorro station will be a key to doing this on reasonable timeframes. 

It will also be helpful for people trying to skip Las Cruces and go from I-25 in Hatch and on to Deming. This highway (NM-26) can be seen going diagonally from Deming to I-25. Nearby, another small highway goes from Silver City to I-25, opening up a lot of outdoor recreational and tourism opportunities for CCS drivers.

This dead zone still needs several more stations in both New Mexico and Arizona to be easy to travel along, but getting the first leg into the area from the interstate makes it a lot easier to use J1772 charging stations and RV parks to fill in the gap for now. It would sure be great for NM and AZ to put in some basic stations in places like Silver City, Datil, Pie Town,, Quemado, Alpine, and Springerville to fully unlock the potential of the area for EV drivers.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba, showing Electrify America’s newest station design.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1953 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba