Story by Kat Skeldon, MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There was a mix of questions and concerns being presented during a meeting held by the West Virginia Division of Highways regarding a $46 million dollar plan to better accommodate the rise of electric vehicles in the state.

The WV DOH hosted a virtual public meeting Tuesday evening to present information and allow the public a chance to give their input on the state’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plan.

Part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the NEVI plan requires West Virginia and all other states to come up with a Deployment Plan outlining proposed locations for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state, as well as address how West Virginia intends to use NEVI program funds to develop the charging stations along major highways.

West Virginia is set to receive approximately $46 million over the next five years for the effort. DOH meeting spokesperson Brad Davis explains how the funds will go over the course of the fiver year plan.

“We estimated over the five year period it can fund approximately 10-percent of the needed EV chargers or projected EV chargers that are needed in the state,” Davis said.

DOH Chief Economic Development Officer Perry Keller told MetroNews they were going to be discussing not only the deployment of phase 1 of the NEVI plan, Electric AFC Charging, which is placing the charging stations along West Virginia’s interstate system already underway, but in addition, he said they would be discussing the soon-to-be rollout of phase 2, Community-Based Charging.

He said they were charged with establishing the alternative fuel corridors that required the stations to be placed no more than 50 miles a part from one another and no more than 1 mile from an interchange.

Keller said the specific guidelines make it more challenging, particularly because the rules are still evolving as the NEVI plan is brand new.

“We’ve been asked why can’t we put them at rest stops, you can’t put them at rest stops because you’re not allowed to vend or sell, in this case you can’t sell the electricity within the controlled access of an interstate, that’s a federal law,” Keller said.

Keller said West Virginians won’t be as affected by phase 1 of the plan since the stations will solely reside along the interstate.

“It’s going to be mainly for long-distance traveling,” he said. “Mainly people that have an EV are going to have a charging system at home, they’ll go home at night, plug it in and when they wake up they will have a fully charged vehicle they can do their driving, come home and do it again.”

He said residents, however, will also be using other state’s chargers in the first phase when traveling long distance.

During the meeting they also discussed the rollout of phase 2 of the plan, which will establish over 180 charging stations at areas such as colleges and universities, state parks, and locations along the Appalachian corridor that will be lesser capacity charging for shorter distance traveling.

Keller said he wants people to know that this is a national mandatory plan and not something the DOH necessarily would have gone out and embraced on their own accord, but they are now going to make the most of the initiative.

“This is a priority within the Federal Highway Administration and we are prepared to put these things up for the traveling public, for their use, and we hope to do it as quickly as possible,” said Keller.

The DOH is working on garnering public engagement on the project now. They have an online survey and an interactive map of all of the proposed locations of the electric charging stations on their website they encourage people to look over and give their input on.