(The Center Square) – North Carolina is spending $109 million in federal funds to ensure at least four electric vehicle chargers every 50 miles on major highways, and Kempower is now hiring for a new facility in Durham County to produce them.
“Kempower is in a preopening phase where we are hiring, training and accepting preorders for our highly anticipated DC fast charging solutions for different types of electric vehicles,” Kempower spokeswoman Miracle King-Wilson wrote in an email to The Center Square.
An opening production date has not been announced. The facility, company leaders say, is expected to eventually create 306 jobs and invest more than $41 million, “growing the momentum of North Carolina’s clean energy economy” in exchange for $3 million in taxpayer funded incentives over the next dozen years, according to a February statement from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.
“The 300 number is an overall target,” King-Wilson wrote of the jobs goal, “not needed for the day one opening, however we are actively hiring! The EV market is constantly evolving, and so are we. With the mindset of a forerunner, we need learners, doers and problem solvers from many different backgrounds.”
The Finland-based company is among others that will play a role in the state’s plan financed through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress in 2021. The Cooper administration wants to create a network of electric vehicle fast-charging stations that aligns with the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 500,000 chargers across the nation by 2030.
In North Carolina, phase one of the Department of Transportation’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan aims to comply with federal regulations calling for chargers spaced 50 miles or less within 1 mile of the state’s “alternative fuel corridors,” or major highways. Phase two is “focused on community-based public electric vehicle charging or other critical infrastructure needs,” according to the plan.
When the plan was debuted in August 2022, the state had a total of 1,408 charging ports statewide, and 633 within 1 mile of alternative fuel corridors. Only 10 stations met federal requirements of four or more chargers per station. North Carolina needs at least 53 compliant stations to meet the federal goal.
The most recent data available from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, gleaned from the U.S. Department of Energy, puts the total number of stations statewide at 1,426, with 3,754 pubic ports, including Tesla ports that are specific to those vehicles and are not counted in the state plan, according to department spokesman Tanner Holland.
The state aims to put in 156 ports as part of the plan, none of which are yet installed. Officials are assessing locations, Holland said.
The ongoing effort ties in with Cooper’s Executive Order 246 to register 1,250,000 zero-emissions electric vehicles by 2030, and to achieve a 50% vehicle sales share of the same for light-duty vehicles by the same deadline. Cooper, term-limited and leaving office at the end of 2024, has also committed to increasing sales of zero emissions medium-heavy duty vehicles to 30% of sales by 2030, and 100% by 2050.
Through August, total electric vehicle registrations in the state hit roughly 75,000, with about 55,000 electric and just under 20,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles, according to state Department of Transportation data.
That means over the remaining 88 months, the state would need to register at least 14,204 zero-emissions electric vehicles per month to reach Cooper’s goal by the end of 2030. For the first seven months of 2023, the state added nearly 18,000 electric vehicles. The total added for all of 2022 was 16,940, according to the data.