First Nevi charging station finally opens

Initial public chargers funded by the scheme go live over two years after legislation is passed

First Nevi charging station finally opens
The US Midwest is getting more chargers

The first public EV charging station funded under the Biden administration’s New Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (Nevi) programme has opened in Ohio, after recent criticism from industry leaders that the legislation was not proving as helpful as it should to charging rollout.

“Ohio has now announced the opening of the first charging station funded through the Nevi program,” the White House has confirmed, adding that “Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Maine have broken ground on new stations, and additional activity is expected in several other states in the coming weeks”.

It is a much-needed boost for the Nevi programme after the scheme has attracted some criticism from the charging industry. While the total investment amounts are large, red tape and bottlenecks have not always allowed projects and funding to be allocated quickly or easily. It is now over two years after the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that the scheme’s first charging station has opened.

Nor does the opening of the first station does promise to smooth over all the cracks which critics say have made the procurement process complicated and driven up costs for chargepoint operators (CPOs) working on funded projects.

Catherine Zoi , CEO of US charging company EVgo told analyst at the firms third quarter results that requirements to buy American-manufactured equipment to qualify for funding under the Nevi program are pushing EVgo’s capex spending into “the top end of our previously mentioned range”.

“While EVgo fully supports building domestic manufacturing capabilities for the EV charging industry, the Baba (‘build American buy American’) compliance chargers cost more at present,” she said, adding that “prevailing wage requirements for grant-funded projects under Nevi or 30c, add about 30pc to the labour portion of capex”.

“Despite the significant financial backing, the anticipated rollout of thousands of EV chargers nationwide has been sluggish,” says Dennis Garrett, CEO of consultancy Blue Lake. “A complex web of new contracting and performance requirements has become a significant roadblock.”

“This has resulted in delays, leaving the eagerly awaited charging stations on the drawing board,” he adds.

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The Biden administration has targeted building a national network of at least 500,000 public chargers by 2030 on the back of $7.5bn in investment made available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Of this, $5bn is reserved for building a fast-charging corridor consisting of stations no more than every 50 miles along major highways in the US. The Ohio station which opened on Monday is the first of these such stations.

“As of December 2023, the US has more than 165,000 public charging ports — since the start of the Biden Administration, the number of publicly available fast charging ports has increased by more than 70pc,” the White House says.

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