When the IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) was announced in 2021, Americans were promised a lot. Now, we are beginning to see this unfold across the country. But will it help solve some of the challenges we face when it comes to EVs (electric vehicles)? It’s still a big question mark for many so let’s take a look at what is coming.
I recently had an opportunity to gain a better understanding of where we are at with the CFI (charging and fuel infrastructure) discretionary grant program from Michael Culp, team leader for sustainable transportation, Federal Highway Admin., in the Office of Natural Environment.
“The CFI program was established under the bipartisan infrastructure law, and it was authorized mainly to deploy publicly accessible EV charging and fuel infrastructure along designated corridors,” Culp explains.
The program is separated into community grants and corridor grants. The community program is meant for areas that are not on designated corridors (i.e. any public road or publicly accessible locations). The corridor program is focused on filling gaps and making existing corridors that are currently pending into ready corridors. Eligible types of infrastructure are EV charging and alternative fuel infrastructure fueling as well, which includes hydrogen natural gas.
Both grants are included in the NOFO (notice of funding opportunity) that was released and it combines 2022 and 2023 funding, which totals $700 million for this particular NOFO. The bill had authorized funding for a total of $2.5 billion so this is the first two years of that—and he anticipates the program will continue to be appropriated into and through FY 26.
The program goals are mainly focused on deploying this infrastructure, and its objective is to make it convenient, affordable, reliable, equitable, accessible, and safe. Other program goals include:
- Supplement and not supplant private sector investment,
- Complement existing federal program,
- Facilitate broad access,
- Implement Justice40 Initiative,
- Lower transportation costs,
- Increase economic opportunity,
- Advance job quality, workforce development, and equity,
- Reduce greenhouse gas and vehicle related emissions.
I have long been saying if we want EVs to truly take off, then we need to build the infrastructure. We are beginning to see more charging stations that are being rolled out by both public and private entities. Here in my own state, Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order, which formalizes the governor’s efforts to coordinate the future rollout of the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure. It takes big efforts and a lot of infrastructure to make this happen. It won’t happen overnight. It will take years to get everything in place and to make sure everyone is onboard. We need to be realistic. But with all hands working to charge up the efforts, anything is possible. What are you seeing in your own state? Is it fast enough? What do you believe needs to happen next?
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