When President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law, he made the most significant commitment of federal dollars toward electric vehicle charging in our nation’s history. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. Of these funds, $4.75 billion will be distributed in formula funding to states under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program, and an additional $2.5 billion will be distributed through a competitive grant program.
Before states can spend the IIJA funds, each state must submit a NEVI plan to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation by August 1, 2022, and plans will be approved by September 30, 2022. Once a state’s plan is approved, a state must then use the first part of its funding to build its alternative fuel corridors. NEVI guidance requires that EV charging infrastructure be conveniently and safely located as close to the Interstate Highway System and highway corridors as possible and no greater than 1 mile from Interstate exits or highway intersections along designated corridors.
Blink Charging has been hard at work speaking with officials at the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and the individual state departments of transportation who oversee their state’s NEVI program. Through our conversations, Blink is helping to educate state officials on the need to plan for the future of transportation and how to get there.
To ensure that the transition to EVs is successful, the NEVI guidance prioritizes having DCFC (fast chargers) along the highway corridors. Fast chargers are popular with businesses, especially convenience stores, gas stations, truck stops, and travel plazas. Fast chargers can usually charge a car over 80% in about 45 minutes or less. Blink Charging is very familiar with installing fast chargers along corridors and was awarded a grant of $12.5 million to place 52 fast chargers along key highway corridors in Florida.
Ensuring Chargers in Low-Income and Rural Communities
NEVI plans must target at least 40 percent of the benefits towards disadvantaged communities. Blink strives to make electric vehicle charging accessible for everyone. Our commitment to ensuring charging accessibility for all is more than just words and shown in our actions as well. For example, Blue LA Powered by Blink Mobility is an EV car-sharing program. BlueLAPowered by Blink Mobility targets areas with a large number of low-income families, many of whom lack cars. As of last summer, there have been more than 63,000 trips and more than 1.3 million miles traveled with BlueLA Powered by Blink Mobility. Fifty-five percent of those trips were made by low-income users using the service’s subsidized membership program. Blink is also innovating the next generation of technology to ease the transition to EVs for rural communities by incorporating battery storage and solar into the chargers.
If EV chargers are not reliable, then the transition to EVs will become stagnant. NEVI requires that chargers achieve a greater than 97 percent reliability at the individual station level. Blink is proud of having chargers at 99 percent uptime, due to the real-time platform software of the Blink Network. In addition, if a user is having trouble with a particular charger, they can call the 24/7/365 customer support team based in Arizona.
Avoiding Stranded Assets
A major goal of NEVI is “the long-term operation and maintenance of publicly available EV charging infrastructure to avoid stranded assets”. What sets Blink apart, and ensures there will not be stranded assets, is that Blink’s model is formed to make money off the utilization of those chargers for the foreseeable future. Other companies in the marketplace sell the charging equipment and make money off the networking fees and maintenance, which doesn’t promote sustainable buy-in from the EV charging company.
No One-Size-Fit-All Model
All states will have different perspectives regarding EV infrastructure when submitting their NEVI plan to the Joint Office. Through flexible models, from selling equipment to a hybrid model to an owner-operator model, Blink can accommodate what any state might be looking for. If a state wants to operate the equipment, Blink can sell them the needed equipment. In the hybrid model, Blink owns the charging equipment, pays for part of the installation, provides maintenance, and splits the utilization revenue with the site host. Lastly, in the third model, Blink’s owner-operator model, charging stations are set up and Blink collects revenue from each charge.
As the federal and state governments plan for the future of EV infrastructure, Blink will continue to engage with industry stakeholders to offer over a decade-plus of knowledge of being in the charging business. Blink looks forward to assisting the federal government in installing chargers that the IIJA will fund.