(The Center Square) — The first federally-backed electric vehicle charging station recently came to fruition in Pennsylvania as the state gets moving on building out a comprehensive network.
State funds have boosted EV expansion in the commonwealth as well, though larger problems – like maintaining charging infrastructure and reducing the strain on the electric grid – persist on the horizon.
Over five years, Pennsylvania will get $172 million for more than 200 charging stations through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, with the first getting built in Pittston at a Pilot Travel Center in collaboration with General Motors, PennDOT announced.
“We look forward to providing EV drivers a state-of-the-art charging experience with unparalleled amenities and conveniences to make their journeys easier and more enjoyable,” Brad Anderson, chief operating officer at Pilot, said. “Our nationwide network of travel centers will soon offer fast charging at up to 500 locations, including several stations in Pennsylvania.”
The NEVI program requires charges to be built out along interstate corridors before expanding to some high-traffic state routes. The Pittston charger, thanks to a $610,000 grant, is one of 56 stations in 37 counties getting built in the first round of the NEVI program.
Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said the stations “will ensure a seamless experience for drivers when they’re charging up – with similar payment systems, clear pricing information, interoperable connector types, and reliable charging speeds.”
PennDOT will accept proposals for the next round of NEVI funding from Dec.11 to Jan. 26, offering $22 million to build more charging stations between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and Erie, and along I-80, among others.
“After a successful funding round earlier this year, we’re looking forward to filling in the remaining gaps in our electric vehicle Alternative Fuel Corridors,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said.
In 2022, almost 200,000 hybrid EVs and 47,000 EVs were registered in Pennsylvania, with another 25,000 plug-in hybrid EVs. Most of the EV registrations in Pennsylvania cluster around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
As those numbers climb, more pressure will fall on the electric grid, straining the system and driving up maintenance costs. Experts have warned that current infrastructure is not yet prepared for the shift, and to maintain EV charging stations, states may face a worker shortage.