Joe Biden Has Plans For Rural EV Charging, Probably Because UN Agenda 21 We Bet
Free EV charging at Collinsville, Connecticut, Town Hall. Photo: 'pedrik,' Creative Commons License 2.0

As part of its plan to destroy America with clean energy that will create jobs, clean the air, and fight global warming — basically a vision of hell — the Biden administration this week rolled out a handy guide to help rural communities join in on the planned nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations. To that end, the federal Department of Transportation has released a "toolkit" of information and resources aimed at connecting "community members, towns, businesses, planning agencies, and others with partners needed for these projects."

The toolkit is one part of the effort to build up what will eventually be 500,000 EV charging stations, as funded by $7.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last fall. That'll be split into two chunks: $4.75 billion to the states, and another $2.5 billion for a competitive grant program. The goal of this here toolkit is to help rural communities figure out how to tap into some of that funding, as well as how to partner with other sources to get EV charging off the ground.

In a press release, the DOT said the toolkit contains

best practices for planning EV charging networks and tips to navigate federal funding and financing to help make these projects a reality. DOT will also be holding workshops with rural communities to utilize the toolkit most effectively.

It's a big heckin' deal, Transportation Secretary Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in the DOT statement, because

Drivers in rural areas often have the longest commutes and spend the most money on gas, which means big benefits from having access to electric cars and pickup trucks if they are affordable and easy to charge where they live and drive. The investments in the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for a national EV charging network are an important step toward ensuring that EVs aren’t a luxury item and that everyone in America can benefit from clean transportation.

In addition to the toolkit, the DOT will be holding workshops with rural communities to help them put the toolkit to work, starting with a webinar to present details of the toolkit on February 9 (details and signup linky in the DOT press release).

Selling Rural Consumers And Communities On EVs

We took a look at the toolkit — the full title is Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure and while it's not exactly the kind of reading with which you'd curl up next to your solar-charged electric fireplace on a cold winter evening, it seems like a useful collection of information for your municipal planning types and local transportation nerds.

Wisely, we think, the document really does start out with the very basic basics, like What Are Electric Vehicles Anyway? (OK, maybe not that basic) and explaining the three speeds of charging equipment used in residential and commercial charging, with a focus on the Level 2 and Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) that are used in public charging stations — the latter can charge a typical modern EV battery to about 80 percent in around 30 minutes.

There's also a nice section on "Benefits and Challenges" of rural EV charging, aimed at explaining why EVs will be good for individuals and for communities in rural areas. It's the kind of sales job that's going to be necessary to convince people to buy in to EVs, noting that while modern electric cars and light trucks have a higher purchase price than gas or diesel equivalents, the fuel and maintenance costs are far lower, and can ultimately result in a lower total cost of owning the vehicle, especially as more EV models come on the market and the per-vehicle cost gets cheaper (think of how flat-screen TVs have gone from luxury items to absurdly affordable).

EVs Aren't Just For Cities

The toolkit notes that the savings on fuel and maintenance will be a big factor in getting rural folks interested in EVs — at least once the availability of charging stations increases — because rural drivers simply drive more on average than urban drivers:

Lower fuel costs are especially beneficial in rural areas, where residents drive on average 10 more miles per day than urban residents in vehicles that are, on average, larger and less fuel efficient. Largely due to these factors, rural drivers ultimately spend 44 percent more on gasoline and motor oil than urban drivers. [Emphasis in original — Dok Zoom]

Without naming brands, which would be untoward in a government document, the toolkit also notes that major manufacturers are rolling out electric pickups like the (we'll say it) Ford F-150 Lightning that include features that should be especially interesting to rural customers, like power outlets that can be used for tools and lighting on job sites where electricity isn't connected, or the ability to actually serve as a backup power source for homes during power outages. They can even be charged from rooftop solar arrays and serve as a battery backup when the sun is down.

Also neat: the DOT includes a brief discussion of how E-bikes can become useful secondary transportation for shorter trips in small towns and adjoining rural areas, noting that businesses can install simple Level 1 chargers in secure parking lots to attract customers biking from nearby areas. Somewhere, Victoria Jackson just had a fit about the United Nations taking over rural areas.

'Our Town' Goes Electric

For rural communities, the toolkit notes that while most EV charging development has been "concentrated in cities and along major highways," rural communities that build EV charging infrastructure can benefit from getting in on the game. The toolkit even makes a selling point for small-town businesses out of what's often seen as a drawback for EV owners: Even fast chargers take a while to get an EV charged up, so

EV drivers may also be inclined to combine their refueling stops with other activities, including visits to local stores, restaurants, parks, and attractions in the vicinity.

Providing EV charging stations can thus enable rural communities to draw regional travelers driving EVs and to stay connected to the broader EV charging network, benefiting both local residents and outside visitors alike, as well as bringing in revenue for local businesses.

The guide also notes that lower emissions and cleaner air will be good for everyone, and by gosh it even mentions why reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important, although that section doesn't harp on about climate change or saving the ecosystem too much. Also too, there's a nice overview of the economic development benefits for smaller communities that get in on the coming boom in manufacturing EV components as the US moves to eventual zero emissions transportation.

The toolkit also discusses the challenges of building out rural EV infrastructure, like the initial investment costs, which may not be recouped as quickly as for EV charging stations in urban areas, because fewer people — but if you build it, the EVs will come, and the whole point of the toolkit is to get the EV infrastructure built out. The guide discusses solutions that are on the way as well, like funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for upgrading the electrical grid.

The Nuts And Volts Stuff

Now, this is the part where we're going to cheat on our homework: We only skimmed the real nitty-gritty of the toolkit, which consists of detailed discussions of "partnership opportunities" for communities, a guide to planning the actual projects, and crucially, a discussion of funding and financing EV charging projects. There's also what looks like a pretty comprehensive collection of resources planners can use for getting the jerb done, drawn from a load of federal linkies.

Why did we fall down on the job like that? Simple answer: We are a mere mommyblogger, not a local technocrat (and also we are lazy). There looks to be a lot of good stuff in here that would be of great value to your municipal planning types, and probably also for local activists, but beyond the overview sections, it gets to be somewhat heavy — albeit necessary — bureaucratic sledding.

From a non-expert perspective, though, some of the tips look pretty valuable, like the planning overview's reminders that since so much of EV infrastructure needs to be built up from nearly zero, there are no "one-size-fits-all" approaches, especially since the needs of various rural areas may differ, or that completing projects may involve doing several things at a time, not a strict step by step process.

This part of the toolkit is not necessarily for your dear wacky neighbor who serves on the town planning board part time and you know damn well she's the only one in the town who will even try; it's a bit more like those old guidebooks to how to build solar panels from scratch than it is a catalogue of off-the shelf systems you can have installed.

But that's kind of where we are with EV charging infrastructure in 2022. Down the line, it would be pretty great if the feds built up a Rural Electrification Corps that could meet with rural leaders and businesses, then just come to town and put in chargers at the Co-Op parking lot.

It's a big challenging future. God knows we need all the help possible getting there.

[US DOT press release / Rural EV Charging Toolkit / Photo: "pedrik," Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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