US electric vehicle highway plan gathers momentum

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National Grid has joined seven other utilities to build out an electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across the US.

The plan under the Electric Highway Coalition, which was formed in March, is to develop a seamless network of charging stations connecting major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.

The six founding utilities were American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corporation, Southern Co and the Tennessee Valley Authority, with Eversource and now National Grid joining subsequently.

National Grid is providing charging ports for the stations across its territories in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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The company has deployed 1,400 charging ports with 16,000 on the way, believed to be one of the largest EV charging programmes outside of California.

“In the Northeast, only 2-3% of all new vehicle sales are electric today. We need 100% of vehicle sales to be electric in the states we serve by 2035 if we are going to reach our ambition of net-zero,” said Badar Khan, US President of National Grid.

“That means millions of EVs and the buildout of thousands of chargers. It’s an understatement to say we have a lot of work to do. Over the next decade, we will work with other utilities, charging station providers, automakers, policymakers, regulators and our customers to put more EVs and charging stations on our streets.”

Each of the utilities within the Coalition are taking steps to provide charging solutions in their service territories and collaborating to ensure accessibility and a positive customer experience.

Sites along major highway routes with easy highway access and amenities for travellers are being considered to determine final charging station locations. Charging stations will provide DC fast chargers with a 20-30 minute charge time.

In its newly released roadmap to net zero by 2050 the International Energy Agency calls for a massive scale up of EVs, from around 5% of global car sales currently to more than 60% by 2030 along with an increase in public charging points up to 40 million from around 1 million today. Utilities are a key player in this delivery and the earlier their involvement the greater the rewards.