The Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation (PennDOT) and Environmental Protection (DEP) – along with partners from Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, Sheetz, and PPL – highlighted Pennsylvania’s forward momentum in its work related to electric vehicles (EV), putting the commonwealth in a solid position to maximize new funds available to support EVs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
“Transportation is changing every day,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has given us a great opportunity, and I’m proud of the progress that we – along with our partners – have made to prepare Pennsylvania for a future filled with electric vehicles.”
As part of the BIL, PennDOT will receive and distribute $171.5 million in National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula funds for EV charging infrastructure over the next five years. Additionally, $2.5 billion is available in discretionary grant funding. There are more than 31,000 EVs registered in Pennsylvania, nearly triple the roughly 9,700 that were registered in March 2019.
“Pennsylvania has made tremendous progress towards making electric vehicles and EV chargers more accessible to more people,” said DEP Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Joe Adams. “Every EV on the road reduces the amount of air pollution coming from tailpipes, which makes for cleaner air and a healthier environment.”
The BIL requires all state DOTs to submit a state EV infrastructure deployment plan to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) by August 1, 2022. The Pennsylvania NEVI Plan has been submitted, and it outlines PennDOT’s approach to the strategic deployment of a convenient, reliable, affordable, and equitable EV charging network to support range confidence for Pennsylvanians and visitors over the course of the NEVI Formula Program.
The Pennsylvania NEVI Plan was informed by a public survey which garnered over 4,400 responses and public comments, which led to the development of an entirely new goal to address environmental benefits and consider multiple transportation modes for electrification. In addition, the feedback received spurred additional consideration for first responder training in EV response, appropriate signage and location identification, ensuring small and diverse businesses are included as potential partners or sites, and ensured early utility coordination.
PennDOT, along with stakeholders, also developed the EV Mobility Plan, which lays out the existing EV infrastructure in PA and makes recommendations on moving forward with a 5-year plan, incorporating the Pennsylvania NEVI Plan as the first phase of development. The plan recommends the installation of at least 5,000 new EV charging ports at 2,000 sites in Pennsylvania by 2028 leveraging public-private partnerships, cost sharing mechanisms, and funding through the BIL.
Additionally, PennDOT – following guidance issued from U.S. DOT – will use the EV Equity Guiding Principles developed collaboratively with DEP to help the department evaluate EV proposals in accordance with the federal guidance. The principles aim to increase accessibility to the infrastructure and maximize benefits for all Pennsylvanians and fall into five categories:
- Make EVs more affordable;
- Make EV charging more accessible;
- Invest in fleet electrification;
- Invest in traditionally underserved, low-income, persons of color and otherwise vulnerable population areas; and
- Increase EV awareness, education, and technical capacity.
“The transportation sector produces the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.,” said Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities executive director Rick Price. “Considering many of these emissions are sourced from passenger-duty vehicles, driving electric is one of the best ways to combat this issue. This NEVI funding will help Pennsylvanians to drive electric cars almost anywhere in the state.”
The BIL funding supports the commonwealth goal of expanding EV charging along the previously designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) (list) and Interstate lookalikes. Federal AFC criteria was updated earlier this year to require AFC designated corridors to have charging stations no more than 1 mile from an Interstate exit or highway intersection (previously 5 miles) and no more than 50 miles apart.
Currently, Pennsylvania has over 1,800 miles of AFCs. Per the guidance from U.S. DOT, any EV charging infrastructure installed with NEVI formula funds shall be located along a designated AFC and meet U.S. DOT minimum standards and requirements. Should PennDOT determine, and U.S. DOT certifies, that the AFCs are fully built out, then Pennsylvania may use funds to build EV charging equipment on any public road or in any publicly accessible location, including but not limited to parking facilities at public buildings, public schools, and parks.
Since 2018 DEP has installed more 1,500 plugs, with another 500 in development, through the Driving PA Forward program. Since July 1, 2015, DEP has awarded 8,384 Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebates, totaling $10.6 million, to Pennsylvania residents, predominantly for electric vehicles. DEP has awarded grants totaling $28.7 million to 205 projects by municipalities, businesses, and organizations for alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure, including a growing number of electric vehicle and charging projects.
To enhance traveler information for the growing number of EV drivers, the state’s traveler information system – 511PA – now also includes EV charging station locations as an option on its traffic map. Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the map shows locations across the state by connector type, including CCS, J1772, CHAdeMO, Tesla, and NEMA. Currently, there are over 2,800 public charging ports at over 1,200 locations across Pennsylvania.
“Since our founding in 1952, Sheetz has been committed to being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for customers – a promise that has extended to electric vehicle chargers, which are now offered at 90 of our store locations,” said Eric McCrum, Energy and Sustainability Manager at Sheetz. “With the support of PennDOT and the funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we intend to give customers to ability to choose Sheetz as a preferred charging destination, wherever they are in the Commonwealth.”
“We anticipate EV adoption to increase significantly over the next several years,” said PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director Maggie Sheely. “We’ve been providing input to PennDOT and DEP on EV charging plans for Pennsylvania and we are members of multiple EV coalitions, including the EEI National Electric Highway Coalition — which is made up of 17 U.S. utilities committed to supporting the development of a seamless network of rapid EV charging stations connecting major highways. As this technology develops, we’re staying engaged with our customers, helping them understand how we can provide reliable power, and giving them the support they need.”