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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Toolkit to Help Rural Communities Build Out Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Posted on February 14, 2022 by Dene Westbrook

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a new, free resource to help rural communities across the country take full advantage of federal funding for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The guide, titled Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure, can help connect community members, towns, businesses, planning agencies, and others with partners needed for these projects. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a total of $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.

The toolkit contains best practices for planning EV charging networks and tips to navigate federal funding and financing to help make these projects a reality. DOT will also be holding workshops with rural communities to utilize the toolkit most effectively.

This toolkit is being released in anticipation of the distribution of $7 billion in funds to accelerate the deployment of a national electric vehicle charging network from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Of these funds, $4.75 billion will be distributed by formula to states, and an additional $2.5 billion will be distributed through a competitive grant program that will support innovative approaches and ensure that charger deployment meets Administration priorities such as supporting rural charging, improving local air quality and increasing EV charging access in disadvantaged communities. Together, this is the largest-ever U.S. investment in EV charging and will be a transformative down payment on the transition to a zero-emission future.

The Department of Transportation, along with the Department of Energy and the White House will be conducting outreach and providing resources including this new toolkit to help ensure all Americans, including those in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations, benefit from EV technology.

The toolkit was developed as part of the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative at USDOT, which coordinates rural infrastructure policy at the Department. The ROUTES Initiative was first created in 2019 and codified in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  ROUTES provides technical assistance and easy-to-access resources for rural transportation stakeholders, including this toolkit. More information on the ROUTES Initiative can be found at www.transportation.gov/rural.

Over the coming weeks and months, USDOT will hold workshops with rural communities and stakeholders to obtain feedback on the toolkit and provide information to help rural communities get started with electric vehicle charging projects. An updated toolkit will be available this summer that incorporates feedback from these workshops, expanded information on new programs, and new information on topics such as transit and school bus electrification.

Updates on the revised toolkit and other rural EV resources will be provided at www.transportation.gov/rural/ev.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

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