Ohio EPA to administer $3.5 million in grant funds
(COLUMBUS,OHIO) - In support of the DeWine-Husted Administration’s principles of collaboration, innovation, and economic growth, DriveOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), has finalized a study to expand electric vehicles (EV) access throughout Ohio. The Electric Vehicle Charging Study is available here on the drive.ohio.gov site.
In the study, a new state-wide strategy is outlined, identifying key steps that are necessary for expanding Ohio’s EV impact. The strategy identified various sites needed to build EV-friendly corridors throughout the state. A key recommendation from the strategy is to have EV charging stations available and installed at least every 50 miles at strategic locations along interstate, state and US route corridors.
The strategy also recognizes recent investments that automobile manufacturers are making in EV technology. Last week’s unveiling of the Lordstown Motors Endurance electric pickup-truck is an example here in Ohio.
“There is a paradigm shift underway in the transportation industry. Legacy companies are pivoting to new ways of doing business and startups are entering the market,” said Jack Marchbanks, Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. “By working towards EV-friendly corridors, Ohio will continue leading the way in the changing landscape of transportation.”
The strategy also calls for collaboration among various state agencies to implement this comprehensive proposal: ODOT, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the Development Services Agency (DSA), the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC).
“We are looking forward to the opportunities that will come as a result of the work of our state agency partners, this was a team effort” said Mary Mertz, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “We hope the installation of charging stations at state parks and lodges will allow electric vehicle drivers to travel further and explore more of Ohio’s natural wonders.”
The US Department of Energy and multiple independent market reports conclude that the automotive industry is committed to EVs. Over the past 18 months numerous manufacturers including Ford, GM, Chrysler and Nissan have committed to each bringing 10 or more EV models to market in the 2020s. These manufacturers have also announced billions in investment in US and foreign EV manufacturing facilities. As new EV models come to market and current automated and connected vehicle (AV/CV) technology matures, DriveOhio sees EVs as an enabler of autonomous vehicles moving forward.
In coordination with DriveOhio’s study, tomorrow, the Ohio EPA will open the application process for $3.5 million in grant funds to install publicly accessible ‘Level 2’ chargers in counties that Ohio EPA has identified as eligible to receive funds from the grant program. A map of eligible counties can be found at epa.ohio.gov.
“The data-driven approach DriveOhio took, makes their study a great tool for us. As we receive applications, we can use it as a road map to prioritize locations and ensure new chargers are installed strategically to fill the gaps,” said Laurie Stevenson, Ohio EPA Director.
The Level 2 announcement is the first of two from Ohio EPA. Another $5 million in grant funding will be released for ‘Direct Current Fast’ (DC Fast) chargers in early 2021. The study identified major arteries where these DC Fast chargers will help fill gaps and thereby ease what experts call range anxiety for EV travelers. More information about the program can be found at epa.ohio.gov/EVCharging.
ODOT, ODNR, ODPS, and OTIC are taking inventory of state-owned assets where Level 2 chargers could be placed as they work together to support the recommendations in the study. Additionally, on August 6, 2020 the PUCO will host a virtual stakeholder meeting to present the results of the DriveOhio study, discuss the Ohio EPA’s RFP, and outline the utility infrastructure needed to support Ohio’s mission to make Ohio EV ready. Meeting details can be found at puco.ohio.gov.
“The PUCO is pleased to bring together DriveOhio, Ohio EPA, utilities, and other stakeholders to host a virtual meeting to learn about and discuss the Electric Vehicle Charging Study. We look forward to a productive discussion that will identify possible next steps for strategic planning of EV charging stations across Ohio,” said Sam Randazzo, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
“This initiative is a great example of state government working together and combining resources to get the very best result for Ohioans,” said Marchbanks.