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Pa to receive $171.5M to support electric vehicle charging stations

It’s the fifth-highest tally nationwide under the bipartisan infrastructure law, officials said

If you’re one of the growing number of Pennsylvanians who’s driving an electric vehicle, you’re going to want to put down your bagel and coffee for this one and maybe pick up an extension cord.

That’s because the Keystone State is in line to receive $171.5 million under the federal infrastructure law over the next five years to build out its EV charging network, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The tally is the fifth-highest of any state, and it’s part of the Biden administration’s effort to encourage Americans to buy electric cars, WESA-FM in Pittsburgh reported. The state is slated to receive $25 million this year toward augmenting the state’s existing network of 1,078 public charging locations, the radio station reported.

All told, Congress allocated $5 billion to expand the network of charging stations along the nation’s interstate highway system, the New York Times reported. The money won’t be enough to meet a surging need, but the White House hopes it will serve as a catalyst, the newspaper reported.

“We are modernizing America’s national highway system for drivers in cities large and small, towns and rural communities, to take advantage of the benefits of driving electric,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping states to make electric vehicle charging more accessible by building the necessary infrastructure for drivers across America to save money and go the distance, from coast-to-coast.”

The White House further plans to spend an additional $2.5 billion on chargers in rural areas or other communities where private sector operators might be reluctant to invest, the Times reported.

The money “will help us win the E.V. race by working with states, labor and the private sector to deploy a historic nationwide charging network that will make E.V. charging accessible for more Americans,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement, according to the Times.

State officials already had been moving toward expanding the commonwealth’s charging infrastructure.

Last February, for instance, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced it had secured $936,000 in grant money to underwrite the construction of 16 additional fast charger installations across the commonwealth, the Capital-Star previously reported.

As of November 2020, there were more than 29,000 electric vehicles registered in Pennsylvania, according to the DEP’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap.

Last year, a nationwide report card showed the state ranking 17th nationwide for its electric vehicle infrastructure, the Capital-Star’s Cassie Miller reported.

Environmental advocates welcomed the news of the influx of federal funding.

“Funding from the bipartisan infrastructure package is already on its way to help Pennsylvania ramp up clean electric cars, cut harmful pollution and create jobs in the process,” Mandy Warner, the Pennsylvania state director for Environmental Defense Fund, said in an email to the Capital-Star.

The funding is a “critical piece of the equation of 100 percent electrification of the transportation economy. The buildout of an EV infrastructure is essential to achieving that goal as it will make adoption of EV cars and trucks significantly easier,” Warner continued. “Electric vehicles are critical to reducing climate- and public health-harming carbon pollution, and Pennsylvania is well-positioned to get to work now to help clear the way for a clean, EV-powered economy in the state.”

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