U.S. utilities establish coalition to increase electric vehicle charging infrastructure

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 748 views 

Six large utilities, including New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. and Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP), announced Tuesday (March 2) a plan allowing electric vehicle drivers to travel seamlessly across major regions of the country through a network of direct current fast chargers for electric vehicles. This unprecedented effort is expected to offer electric vehicle drivers charging options across multiple utilities’ service territories and allow electric vehicle travel without interruption, according to a news release.

The Electric Highway Coalition comprises AEP, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Co. and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The plan is expected to ensure that electric vehicle drivers have access to a seamless network of charging stations connecting major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South and to the Gulf Coast and Central Plains regions. The companies are taking steps to provide electric vehicle charging stations within their service territories.

In the coming weeks, Entergy Arkansas officials will meet with state agencies to determine where the stations should be located, which are expected to be primarily along Interstate 40 and I-30, said Brandi Hinkle of Entergy Arkansas. The Little Rock-based utility plans to add between 10 and 12 stations, each with multiple ports. Site selection is expected by the end of June, and all stations should be completed by the end of the year. Hinkle noted the type of charger has yet to be determined, but it will likely be a level 3 direct current fast charger that in 30 minutes can charge a car to travel about 120 miles. A new Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle has a 259-mile range, so a depleted battery could be recharged in about an hour using a level 3 charger.

By 2030, 18 million electric vehicles will be on U.S. roads, according to the Edison Electric Institute. One of the benefits of driving an electric vehicle includes the ease of low-cost home charging, but some are concerned about the availability of charging stations during long road trips, the release shows. Efforts, such as those by the Electric Highway Coalition, will show customers that electric vehicles are “a smart choice for driving around town as well as traveling long distances,” according to the release. “This effort will provide drivers with effective, efficient and convenient charging options that enable long-distance electric travel.”

Coalition members are considering charging sites along major highways that are easily accessible and have amenities for travelers. The chargers are expected to allow drivers to resume driving within 20 to 30 minutes.

“At Entergy, we are taking an integrated approach toward a carbon-free future that includes working with industry peers and customers to electrify other sectors of the economy like transportation and the maritime industry,” said Leo Denault, chairman and CEO of Entergy. “Initiatives like this proposed regional EV charging corridor will help lower transportation emissions and provide community benefits for all our stakeholders.”

The Electric Highway Coalition has offered other interested utilities to join as it seeks to extend the reach of the network. It also supports and looks to work with other regional utility transportation corridor electrification initiatives.

In a separate project, Entergy Arkansas announced in January it would partner with California nonprofit Adopt a Charger to install up to 10 electric vehicle charging stations throughout Arkansas. These stations will offer fee-free charging, and the site hosts will pay for the electricity use for the grant-funded project.