Kentucky is quickly moving ahead with plans to spend millions of federal dollars to implement an electric vehicle (EV) charging network. Testimony Tuesday afternoon to the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation stressed that Kentucky is on pace and ahead of many other states.
The state will receive $69.5 million in federal funding over the next five years to expand its EV infrastructure. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet must submit a plan by August 1, and the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy must approve it before Kentucky receives its funds.
Assistant State Highway Engineer for Project Development John Moore told legislators the state has a draft in place and would submit a final plan by the deadline. The state consulted with dozens of stakeholders, including the Kentucky League of Cities, to draft its EV goals.
While federal funding targets interstates, Moore revealed that Kentucky added parkways and other priority highways in four phases. Phase one only includes federally required interstates. States must install at least one fast-charging station ‒ four 150kW ports ‒ every 50 miles. Moore said it would take two to three years to roll out those initial stations and require $16.8 million.
Phase two involves parkways and other freeways and carries a $20.4 million price tag. Kentucky has not estimated costs for phases three and four because officials remain unsure about the cost of initial installations. They expect those phases, which involve other priority highways and community/park chargers, to begin in Fiscal Year 2024.
Kentucky should receive the first $10.3 million in federal funding this year. The federal dollars require a 20% match, which can come from public and/or private sources. Committee co-chair Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) pointed out that legislators allocated $17 million in General Fund dollars for the match. Moore said private partnerships should provide the remaining portion, giving Kentucky a total of $86.9 million to spend on the network.
Moore said the state would look to private companies to identify the best places in Kentucky to install the stations. “We feel it’s important for the private sector to help guide that,” he told legislators. He clarified that the state would provide guidance that considers rural communities, miles of corridor coverage, intersecting road traffic, area amenities, and power availability. However, Moore stressed, “Kentucky is not proposing to own these EV stations.”
Some legislators questioned if the state’s electric grid could handle future demand. Moore replied that the power industry has no concerns. “As of right now, it would take a very rapid adoption, which is not forecast for Kentucky, to have a tremendous impact on the electrical grid,” he noted.
Kentucky officials hope to begin construction this fall with the first stations online by spring 2023.