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Reports indicate that not a single electric vehicle charging station has been constructed with the $7.5 billion in federal investment available through the Federal Highway Administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, threatening the Biden administration’s goal to build 500,000 EV chargers by 2030. The final rule implementing the NEVI Formula Program contained a number of ABC-opposed, union-favoring labor requirements that may be contributing to the program’s stagnation.

The NEVI Formula Program is intended to implement provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2021, that dedicated $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations. The program’s goal is to support the installation of electric vehicle chargers across the country as part of a domestic push to shift away from gas-powered vehicles.

In order to receive NEVI program funding, EV charging station developers are required to ensure that all electricians working on electric vehicle supply equipment projects either be certified by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Electric Vehicle Industry Training Program or be a graduate or recipient of a continuing education certificate from a government-registered apprenticeship program with a focus on EVSE installation approved by the U.S. Department of Labor in consultation with the FHWA. To date, ABC is not aware of any such programs approved by the DOL and FHWA.

 Additionally, the rule requires all NEVI-funded projects that require more than one electrician to use at least one GRAP-enrolled apprentice. Finally, other on-site, nonelectrical workers directly involved in the installation, operation and maintenance of chargers must have graduated from a GRAP or have appropriate licenses, certifications and training as required by the state.

ABC submitted comments in response to both the proposed rule and a request for information strongly urging the FHWA to avoid union labor requirements and to instead welcome all qualified contractors to build EV chargers. Unfortunately, the agency disregarded these recommendations in the final rule.

Under the IIJA, the NEVI funds are administered by states, which can contract out the construction and operation of the charging stations to private companies. So far, every state has taken the initial steps to receive the NEVI cash by submitting a plan to the Joint Office in 2022 and an update in 2023. But if a governor were to reject the funds, municipalities could apply to administer the funds instead.

According to a Politico article, Ohio was the first state to break ground on the nation’s first charger funded by the NEVI program in October. Following Ohio, Pennsylvania also broke ground on its first NEVI-funded charger in November. Another six states have awarded contracts for their first round of charging sites, while 15 states and Puerto Rico are in the process of soliciting bids from the private sector.

But 27 states and the District of Columbia have yet to even start soliciting bids, and some states like Missouri indicate they may not post their solicitation until 2025. (Three of those states—Nevada, New York and Vermont—are procuring some federally funded chargers outside of a public request for bids, but plan to solicit bids in the future.)

Even some states with high rates of EV adoption, like California and Washington, have yet to award any of their funds.

In a June study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory projected the United States will need 1.2 million public chargers by 2030 to meet charging demand, including 182,000 fast chargers.

In response to unfavorable coverage about the NEVI program’s lack of progress, White House officials maintained that the administration is making progress and is on track to meet their EV charging station goals.

If you are an ABC member, perform EV charging station construction and have a story to share about your experience with projects subject to NEVI funding and regulations, please contact Michael Altman at [email protected].