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Idaho Transportation looking to add electric charging stations

The state will receive just under $30 million from the federal government to fund the project.

BOISE, Idaho — Electric cars are only becoming more popular, to meet increasing demand, more charging stations are needed.

One in four Americans say they are more likely to buy an electric vehicle the next time they buy a car, according to a AAA press release. Sky-high gas prices are a big contributor.

Electric cars do have some drawbacks; frequent charging is one of them. To help alleviate some of the electronic charging headache, the federal government is giving states money to build more charging stations.

Money is coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Biden signed last year. Part of that law includes the “National Electric Vehicle Investment.”

Idaho will receive just under 30 million dollars over the next five years to add charging stations. The goal is to have an electronic charger every 50 miles just off the interstate.

“Our job is to make sure we’re connecting Americans throughout the entire country in what they’re using. So, whether that’s gas powered or electric powered, we need to make sure we’re providing those resources,” said Aubrie Spencer, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) senior public information officer.

Over the past few months, ITD has gathered opinions about the plan through a series of meetings. People gave their opinions about the placement for charging stations, overall costs, etc. Spence said most people are excited.

Kevin Gee bought his first electric car last year. While he is happy with his purchase, he said its limited charging capability is a nuisance.

“If I could get a car that could go 400/500 miles on a full charge, I wouldn’t have any complaints,” he said.

Gee is not alone in his sentiments. Nita Verner avoids driving long distances with her electric car since charging stations are few and far between in some places.

However, Verner said the plan for more charging stations might change that.

“If there were stations every 50 miles, I would definitely be more inclined to make those longer road trips,” she said.

ITD is hoping to start adding new charging stations in the fall of 2023 after the Federal Highway Administration approves the plan.

However, Spence said potential challenges to having electric chargers along the interstate are on the horizon. A big one is how rural the state is. There is a lot of ground to cover and not necessarily the right infrastructure in place.

She said partnerships between the public and private sector is the solution.

“It will take some time,” Spence said. “We have five years right now to work on different placements and different funding sources to come in. We have a long-range program, but we’re definitely on the right direction."

ITD is accepting public feedback through Wednesday. Email info@evidaho.org with any comments.

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