The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the state’s Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) aim to develop a statewide fast-charging network for electric vehicles. The interstate and major highways shall see a station every 50 miles.
TDEC and TVA already signed an agreement to collaborate and fund the planned network. They reckon their initiative would add about 50 new charging locations, doubling the existing fast-charging network. There are only 24 fast-charging locations currently in Tennessee open to all drivers and supporting both charging standards.
Rather than working with an existing provider, the Department and the TDA, the first and still largest regional planning agency of the federal government, want to commission a custom-made charging station. TDA serves about ten million people through energy, environment, and economic development. For the new corridor and equipment, TDA is working with a group of local power companies to design a whole experience which will include access to amenities at pit stops. They have yet to specify a charge power.
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TDEC and TVA say they will leverage various funding sources and anticipate a $20 million project cost. TDEC has committed 15 per cent, the maximum allowable, of the State’s Volkswagen Diesel Settlement. Approximately $5 million from this fund is expected to be allocated to fast charging infrastructure along corridors. The remainder of the project will be funded by TVA and other project partners, who have yet to be named.
The agreement reflects Drive Electric Tennessee recommendations, a consortium that includes TDEC, TVA, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Their goal is to have 200,000 light-duty EVs in Tennessee by 2028. The Needs Assessment identified highway corridor charging as the best candidate for public investment. Other EV charging use cases like workplace or residential charging will be left for private or public-private investment based on demand.
As of December 2020, 11,034 light-duty EVs were registered in Tennessee, the agencies report. These numbers are likely to climb when perhaps drivers take inspiration from manufacturers. Both VW and GM are building or converting plants in Tennessee to produce electric cars in Chattanooga and Springhill respectively.
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