It’s a project Tennessee leaders say will help the environment and position the state as a leader in the future of transportation and economic development.
WHO: The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is collaborating with the Tennessee Valley Authority on a major project to build a statewide network of refueling stations that can recharge a depleted battery of an electric vehicle in less than 30 minutes.
WHAT: The plan is for the two entities to partner with local governments and electric providers, such as BrightRidge, to develop a network of fast charging stations every 50 miles along Tennessee’s interstates and major highways. The project would add approximately 50 new charging locations, doubling the existing fast charging network.
There are only 24 fast charging locations currently operating in Tennessee that are open to all consumers and support charging standards common to all electric vehicles.
TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said the network will help to lower carbon emissions in the state and support Tennessee’s auto industry. Nissan, Volkswagen and General Motors all have plans to manufacture electric vehicles in the state.
WHEN: The plan is for the charging stations to become operational in 2022. Officials say the charging network will help support a goal by Drive Electric Tennessee to have 200,000 light-duty electric vehicles on the roads in Tennessee by 2028. As of December, there were 11,034 light-duty electric vehicles registered in Tennessee.
WHERE: TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said the new electric vehicle charging network would be located along interstate corridors and major state highways. He also noted Tennessee parks could also serve as locations for electric vehicle charging stations.
WHY: In making the announcement on Wednesday, officials from both TVA and TDEC stressed the economic and environmental benefits to Tennessee. They also emphasized the new charging stations would give drivers more confidence that they will have convenient access to refueling while they’re away from home, thus eliminating the so-called “range anxiety” that may prevent some consumers from purchasing an electric vehicle.
HOW: The fast charging network is estimated to cost $20 million to develop. TDEC has committed 15%, which at $5 million is the maximum allowable from the state’s Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation allocation, to fund a light-duty electric charging infrastructure.
The remainder of the project will be funded by TVA and other program partners.
Word of the partnership between the state and TVA to create the charging network came as good news to BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes, who said the utility will soon be assessing locations for a Level 3 electric vehicle charging station it has programmed into its current budget.