The Biden administration has taken a major step toward implementing its plan to develop a nationwide network of charging stations for electric vehicles, by allocating an initial $615 million among states for the program.

The US Dept. of Transportation and Dept. of Energy on Feb. 10 announced state-by-state allotments for the first year’s formula funding for the EV charging station program, which was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The law, enacted on Nov. 15, contains $7.5 billion over five years for the ambitious program. That includes $5 billion to be distributed among the states by formula and $2.5 billion in discretionary grants for which states will compete.

A senior Biden administration official said in a Feb. 9 media briefing that funds will not be released immediately; states must first submit their implementation plans by Aug. 1 for DOT-DOE approval.

The discretionary grant program would begin at a later date.

The administration’s goal is to have 500,000 chargers in place by 2030. IIJA funds will be “a significant down payment,” another official said, noting that the U.S. passed the 100,000-charger mark in 2021.

Pending DOT-DOE approval, Texas will receives the largest allocation of the 2022 formula funds, with $60.4 million. California ranks second, with $56.8 million; Florida is third, with $29.3 million.

New York is fourth, receiving $26 million, and Pennsylvania ranks fifth, with $25.4 million.

Administration officials said that they will ensure that at least 40% of the EV investment will benefit disadvantaged communities.

The program isn't starting from scratch, but will build on existing “alternative fuel corridors” around the country. “These corridors will form the spine of the national network of EV charging stations,” an official said.

He said the corridors cover more than 165,000 miles that make up the National Highway System and include 134 Interstate highway segments plus portions of 125 numbered U.S. highways and some local roads.

He said 48 states already have designated EV corridors, which are ready for EV-charging infrastructure. 

Another official noted that with sales of electric vehicles and the number of EVs on the road growing rapidly, “we absolutely need to make sure that we have the charging infrastructure there and are ready to meet those vehicles when they get there.”

DOT and DOE also issued initial guidance for the program on Feb. 10. One benchmark is that the chargers should be no more than 50 miles apart, with some exceptions possible.

The agencies will provide more specific requirements in 90 days.

Federal funds will account for 80% of the costs of installing the charging stations; states will contribute a 20% matching share.

Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said in a statement that IBEW is pleased that the DOT-DOE guidance “sets the foundation for the development of national standards and recognizes the need for quality training.”

Stephenson noted that the guidance mentions the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program as an example of “high-quality training.”

The training program’s “partner advisors” include utilities, General Motors and the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. The latter includes representatives from IBEW and a chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Morgan Folger, Destination: Zero Carbon director for advocacy group Environment America, said in a statement, “A more prolific charging network makes it easier for people to drive electric cars and feel confident they have a place to power up along the way.”