Nebraska to get supercharged funding for EV stations | national news

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An injection of federal dollars will allow Nebraska to install electric vehicle charging stations along Interstate 80.

The Biden administration announced this week that Nebraska’s plan for the stations had been approved. The state is expected to initially receive $11 million through the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved last year. Through the program’s funding formula, Nebraska will eventually have access to approximately $30 million.

Interstate 80 is a major national transportation corridor, and the federal plan requires states to focus on freeways first. Nebraska was among the first group of states approved for funding, according to the US Department of Transportation.

Charging stations must be installed every 50 miles and must be within 1 mile of the freeway off-ramp, per federal guidelines.

Electric vehicle charging stations already exist along parts of I-80. The objective of this funding is therefore to fill the gaps and make the necessary upgrades. Areas with charging stations include Lincoln in Omaha and parts of the Interstate west of Kearney and North Platte.

Ryan Huff of the Nebraska Department of Transportation said that when fully constructed, the I-80 project will result in seven new charging stations. Each station will have four separate stands capable of recharging a vehicle in 30 minutes.

Huff estimated construction would begin in a year or two and likely take two to three years. However, he warned that supply chain issues and other logistical issues could slow the progress of the project.

Huff said federal funding is expected to cover 80% of the cost, and the state expects those who will operate the stations to cover the rest of the cost. Customers will have to pay to use the charging stations.

According to the state plan submitted to the federal government, Nebraska is already distributing $1.8 million for the construction of 35 charging stations. This money came from the trust fund created following the multistate lawsuit against Volkswagen.

Money from the Infrastructure Bill can be used for a wide range of works-related activities, from upgrading existing stations and building new ones, to obtaining public feedback and providing panels and maps.

Signed into law last November, the bipartisan infrastructure bill received mixed support from the Nebraska congressional delegation, with Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon voting in favor, and Rep. Adrian Smith, Sen. Ben Sasse then the representative. Jeff Fortenberry voted against.

The federal government is providing $900 million this year and possibly $5 billion over five years to fund a national system of electric vehicle charging stations. This is seen as key to reducing dependence on fossil fuels, as electricity can be generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Transport accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Federal Ministry of Transport.

World-Herald writer Ryan Hoffman contributed to this report.

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