Arizona Updates Its EV Charging Plans

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Arizona’s Department of Transportation recently held a meeting updating the public on its EV charging plans for the Infrastructure Bill, and took the time to get more input from the public. In this article, I’ll cover some of the highlights from that meeting.

But first, here’s the video if you want to watch the whole thing for yourself. I’ll summarize things below the video.

Some Background

Before I cover the key things from this meeting, I want to quickly put this meeting in context. For people unfamiliar with NEVI and the Infrastructure Bill (aka “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” among other names), it’s the federal government’s plan to spend billions on EV charging infrastructure, starting with the United States’ Interstate Highways. The program is being implemented through state departments of transportation, which had to submit plans to spend the money and meet federal requirements.

These requirements were:

  • At least four 150 kW CCS stalls per station
  • Must be within one mile of the highway
  • Enough power for all four to charge at 150 kW simultaneously
  • No gaps bigger than 50 miles along interstates

There are situations where the above might not be possible, so states were able to ask for a waiver of the requirements if there was a valid reason (lack of electricity, terrain, etc.).

The plan’s last update meeting was held about a year ago, and I covered that here. Also, I figured out earlier this year that Arizona is likely to use Tesla’s Magic Dock technology to fulfill NEVI requirements in at least one town.

Since those previous meetings, the charging landscape has changed in some fairly big ways, with the biggest development being multiple automakers choosing to adopt Tesla’s NACS plug starting in 2025. As I explained in another article, this doesn’t change the federal requirements, but states have been able to adapt their plans to better fit this new situation.

Things From Arizona’s Latest Meeting

Much of the beginning of the meeting was housekeeping, but it was impressive that they managed to present the meeting in English, Spanish, and Navajo (Dine). Once they had everybody up to speed on how to participate fully in the meeting in their language, they started with their presentation (about 22 minutes into the video above).

They then spent some time covering some background information (which I covered in the last section), which ran until about the 31:30 mark in the video. So, if you’re only looking for the latest information, be sure to skip to that point.

The first thing they did was explain the “staged approach” the state is taking, which is really required by the NEVI program. Year one’s plan (which hasn’t led to any stations being built yet) was just for Arizona’s interstate highways (excluding the tiny stretch of I-15 that passes from Vegas to St. George, Utah). Now, the state is adding additional corridors along U.S. and state highways that serve key transportation needs outside of the interstates.

These new corridors and the reasons they were chosen probably seem obvious to people who have traveled in the region. The 2023 update (red lines) adds a connection to Las Vegas, connects to both rims of the Grand Canyon (Arizona’s key tourist site), connects to the larger towns in the White Mountains, and ties I-10 and I-40 together along the California state line. It also serves to add a significant connection to at least three reservations, which helps fulfill federal requirements.

In subsequent years, more corridors are going to get some love, including the rest of the route between Phoenix and Vegas, Sedona, Sierra Vista/Huachuca, Douglas, and the rest of the Navajo Nation, among several other key places.

Here’s a map of the proposed sites along these upcoming corridors:

It’s important to note that even with this plan, the station construction won’t actually start until about a year after the contractor gets selected for each site. The interstate stations have not yet even made that point, so the 2023 update stations are at least a couple of years out.

Arizona Is Open To NACS & Other Connectors

ADOT hasn’t announced anything specific yet, but it’s obviously been watching the news. ADOT pointed out that the NEVI program requires CCS but allows for other plugs. When it comes to requirements for those other plug types, it said, “ADOT is evaluating the feasibility of including non-CCS connectors as part of our ongoing contracting process to establish chargers on the interstates.”

Given the greatly increased momentum around NACS, this probably means it’s going to happen like it did in Texas.

Q&A Time

Attendees had some great questions that had obviously been thought out. Here are some key points that the ADOT shared in the Q&A:

  • They’ll definitely work with EV mapping apps and network
  • Reliability is going to be very important
  • Some stations will get more than 4 stalls, others will have extra power provided for future station growth.
  • They want contractors to consider pull-through charging for trailers, shade canopies, and other site enhancements. These decisions will be made with individual contractors on a per-site basis.
  • It was hard enough finding adequate power of any kind at all sites, but they want to use NEVI funding to add solar and battery as needed on more remote roads.

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There are some problems with the plan that need to be addressed.

In the Q&A, the Hopi Tribe’s lawyer indicated that they want to be more involved and get more of the infrastructure installed at their travel centers along I-40 and other highways. Sadly, they feel that they haven’t been worked with and perhaps ignored in the site selection process, while Navajo Nation and others have been engaged with.

Another obvious problem is just how slow the process of NEVI funding is going. The 2022 plan won’t happen for years, and the 2023 plan won’t happen until at least a year after that. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Arizona at all, but it’s clear that the gears of government and contracting tend to go very, very slow. A state that prides itself on being business friendly should be able to find ways to speed the process up, but that’s a big thing to get away with in a bureaucracy.

Hopefully these issues are worked on in the coming months.

Featured image: a screenshot from the ADOT presentation.

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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 1994 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba