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March 07, 2024 | Tom Ballard

TennSMART webinar provides updates on EV charging infrastructure

Pilot Company has three fast-charging sites in Tennessee among 20 across the nation.

How fast is the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure evolving in Tennessee?

That was the question that the TennSMART Consortium tried to answer for close to 40 attendees who turned out for a virtual webinar earlier this week. Speakers included two individuals with Tennessee State Government, another from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the final representing the Pilot Company which has committed to building more than 1,200 high speed charging stalls across the country.

Scott Hundley, Senior Manager of Pilot’s Electric Vehicle Charging Initiative, said the company had 30 locations online as of this week with a goal of having another 170 installed by the end of 2024. There are three sites in Tennessee including the Watt Road location just west of Knoxville and another on I-81.

Project Titan, as the initiative is known, also involves General Motors and EVgo. To learn more, read the Pilot early December news release.

“Our goal is to prepare for and enable the adoption of electric vehicles in the Valley to create benefits,” said Ryan Stanton, Senior Project Manager for EV Evolution at TVA. By 2050, the public utility projects that more than 3.5 million EVs will be deployed across its seven-state service area. Today, he said that number was 52,600 at the end of 2023, representing about one-half of one percent of all vehicles on the road in those states.

Stanton also touched on larger vehicles – think trucks and buses, noting that Tennessee has the most heavily loaded freight corridor in the Southeast and the fifth busiest among the 50 states.

Both Alexa Voytek, Deputy Director in the Office of Energy Programs at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), and Andrea Noel, Program Supervisor in the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), spoke about initiatives overseen by one or both of their state agencies.

Voytek noted that one-third of the 42 FastCharge TN Network sites are up and running. “A lot more will become available this year,” she said of the joint initiative involving TVA and TDEC.

Noel described how Tennessee is utilizing its share of up to $7.5 billion in funding that was approved under the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” to help make EV charging stations accessible to all Americans for local and long-distance trips. That funding includes a $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program that helps states create a network of EV charging stations along Alternative Fuel Corridors designated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

In the Volunteer State, the funding for the Tennessee NEVI initiative is slightly more than $88 million and designated for six interstates – 24, 26, 40, 65, 75 and 81 – along with State Highway 64. The goal is to have chargers every 50 miles or less, and TDOT made nine awards at the end of January for 30 of the 31 EV fast charging locations that are needed to fill gaps along the state’s designated Alternative Fuel Corridors. The gap that still needs to be filled is on I-40 between Jackson and Memphis.

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