Over the years, it has become easier to find electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in urban areas. However, get out into the country, and they become more and more rare.
Tesla has gained a foothold in the competition when it comes to cross-country charging. Its Supercharger network, combined with in-car navigation, makes it easy for Model X, Model Y, Model S, and Model 3 owners to travel from sea to glistening ocean.
Electrifying America is actively working to catch up. The charging service recently announced its Boost plan, an effort to install 1,800 fast charging stations and 10,000 individual chargers in the US and Canada by the end of 2025. It also adds a push to accelerate 150- and 350-kW installations. Charger
This type of infrastructure build, combined with the higher all-electric range levels achieved by new EVs coming from a variety of automakers, make destinations like Yellowstone, Acadia or Yosemite National Park appear more accessible. Electrify America recently opened a charging station at Yosemite Westgate and Buck Meadows Lodge.
Despite these advances, rural charging is still a struggle, contributing to one of the biggest hurdles EV adopters face – range concerns. Range anxiety, the fear that a vehicle has an insufficient amount of fuel to reach its destination, is not just for EV drivers, but is a big part of the conversation due to inadequate charging infrastructure nationwide.
Over the past decade, state and federal agencies and private partners have been working to bridge the EV charging station gap by installing charging facilities on public land.
Sean Norton, the branch chief for sustainable operations at the National Park Service (NPS) headquarters in Washington, DC, said in an interview Granthshala Achieving EV charging infrastructure in national parks has been the agency’s goal since 2012.
Working with the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Clean Cities Coalition Network, NPS worked to figure out where the first dozen or so chargers should go.
“In those initial conversations with NREL, we designed several proposed EV routes in the parks,” Norton explained. “It became the foundation for setting up the first large batch of infrastructure.”
At the time, the agency did not have appropriated funds for the program, so it partnered with BMW for the build out. That funding, as well as on-the-ground technical support from the NPS, was instrumental in setting up those first stations, Norton wide.
Currently, NPS offers over 140 EV chargers across the country.
The development at the state level has happened recently. In 2019, California approved a $55 million plan to install more than 900 chargers in public parks, beaches and schools.
This summer, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced a partnership with electric vehicle startup Rivian to install its Waypoint EV charging stations in all 56 parks in the state.
As a Senior Advisor for Strategic Energy Initiatives at TDEC, Ryan Stanton was instrumental in putting that partnership together. They told Granthshala That the move is part of the state’s overall goal to cater to the increasingly popular EV market.
In 2018, state and automotive stakeholders formed what would eventually be called Drive Electric Tennessee, a body that developed a framework for the future EV ecosystem within the state called the EV Roadmap.
“The roadmap really set a flag for the state to get 200,000 electric vehicles by 2028,” Stanton said.
Drive Electric Tennessee identified four focus areas that would drive toward that goal: charging, awareness and education, supportive state policies, and the availability of vehicles.
The partnership with Rivian began with talks in 2020, and stemmed from identifying areas of the state that lacked charging infrastructure.
“At the time, they were looking at how to electrify more adventure areas and how to enable electric adventure,” Stanton said. “They naturally looked to the parks.”
Working with Tennessee and Colorado is just one aspect of Rivian’s goal of installing more than 10,000 waypoint chargers nationwide.
answer questions from Granthshala Via email, Rivian’s executive vice president of energy and charging, Matt Horton, said the initiative is a necessary step to protect the environment.
“We see our part in this as providing consumers with the products and technology they need to make these steps a part of their daily lives, whether with our vehicles or in state parks such as Charging Deserts.” “By providing accessible charging,” he said.
He also said that one obstacle to the initiative is the uneven power availability in the parks.
“Although most state parks have electricity, some parks have areas without electrical service or have their panels fully subscribed,” Horton explained. “We are working with these parks and local utilities to find solutions in cases where our installation sites and these types of areas overlap.”
Norton says some national park facilities face a similar problem. It is important to map the infrastructure required or already available for EV charging site selection.
The process always begins with a series of questions: Does the site have a power line near the proposed installation site? If not, what can they be tied to? Is the tie-in on or off the grid?
After that, power source ideas come into play.
“Sourcing beyond, ‘What is the current power load on that site,'” he said. “Can we install one or two or more charging stations and have that load be contained in that site? Every power line is connected to a circuit. That circuit has a desired load range.”
In March, Stelantis announced that the Jeep brand would be installing Level 2 charging stations at Jeep Badge of Honor off-road trailheads across the US next year.
The company began by setting up stations in Moab, Utah; Rubicon Trail in Pollock Pines, Calif. and Big Bear, Calif.
In a press release at the time, Jeep brand CEO Christian Meunier said that the initiative is sure to resonate with eco-friendly off-road enthusiasts.
“The key to making the Jeep brand the greenest SUV brand is to ensure that our owners can enjoy the benefits of electric propulsion wherever they go, including on the most coveted off-road trails in the country,” he added.
Developed in partnership with Electrify America, the Jeep 4xe charging stations will either be directly connected to the power grid or use solar power.
in response to questions from GranthshalaElectrification America said in a statement:
“Electrify America works with multiple ‘site hosts’ to source convenient locations with easy public access to our ultra-fast charging stations, multiple facilities nearby to improve the charging experience for customers ( restaurants, shopping etc.). Our ultra-fast charging stations are intended to quickly charge EVs for drivers on the go; hence, fast charge when traveling from site locations park locations near state/federal lands Doers are more convenient for EVs.”
As it stands, EV charging stations are more prominent near coasts and urban areas at national park sites, according to Norton. The evening out tally will not only depend on the NPS, but also on state and local partners to bridge the EV charging gap between urban areas and parks.
“It’s one thing to build capacity in a remote park or rural park, but it’s quite another to not have the ability to charge your electric or hybrid electric vehicle along the way,” he argued.
It doesn’t have a specific timeline for when that infrastructure will be built and widespread, but it has recently seen an uptick in state requests for EV charging in its parks. He says this results in the agency’s long-standing mission of stewardship and sustainability of public lands.
“We’re not just doing it so that visitors can have access,” Norton insisted. “There’s a real environmental stewardship result and a mission behind that. We want to use it as a demonstration of sustainability in national parks.”