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North Carolina Marks Leland As Gap In State Electric Vehicle Infrastructure 

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Jan 9, 2024
The North Carolina Department of Transportation published a map of 11 clusters in the state that it identified as lacking electric vehicle infrastructure. (Screenshot of NDCOT map)
Leland could get a new electric vehicle charging station with help from federal funding as the state pushes for more EV infrastructure along its major thoroughfares.

In late December, N.C. Department of Transportation officials published a map identifying 11 locations across the state that lack EV charging stations. Each location is seen as a gap in the EV infrastructure system and within one mile of an alternative fuel corridor, designated by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

The exit of U.S. 74 onto N.C. 133 in Leland and Belville was included as a potential area for EV charging station proposals. A one-mile radius around US 74 was identified, encompassing businesses that include Food Lion, Leland Ace Hardware, Leland Brewing Company, and Circle K.

Businesses in each of the 11 clusters can apply for a National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI) grant — proposals are planned to be requested by NEVI in February, said NCDOT’s Assistant Director of Communications, Jamie Kritzer. He said the NEVI funds could reimburse businesses for up to 80% of the charging stations' procurement, installation, and operation costs.

NCDOT received $109 million in NEVI funds to dole out for charging stations across the state. Applicants for the funds must be located in one of the 11 clusters, and there will only be one charging station per cluster, according to NCDOT. Between July 2022 and June 2027, NEVI plans to provide nearly $5 billion in aid for states to create a network of 500,000 EV charging stations.

NCDOT officials first looked at where existing charging stations were located, then looked for where they could “fill the gaps” in EV infrastructure.

Landon Barker, owner of Leland Ace Hardware, said an EV charging station is “definitely needed” in the area. However, Barker leases the property, so cannot apply for NEVI money. Barker said she was unaware of the program. 

Barker owns a second Ace Hardware location in Southport and said she would be interested in pursuing this kind of program for that store as she owns the property there; however, that area is ineligible for NEVI funding. 

A customer service manager at the nearby Piggly Wiggly said one EV charger is in the store’s parking lot. She said it was installed about six months ago and rarely sees anyone using it. The charging station is listed online as a Shell Recharge charging station. 

To comply with the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which established the NEVI program in 2023, one charging station must be deployed every 50 miles along an alternative fuel corridor, in Leland’s case U.S. 74. Alternative fuel corridors are interstates and highways where EV charging and hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling stations are located. 

Each of the 11 locations identified by NCDOT must be within one mile of an alternative fuel corridor, said Kritzer. Locations were also chosen to serve a geographically diverse group of people in both rural and urban areas.

NCDOT published the map before the February proposal call so business owners in each cluster can decide if they will submit a proposal, Kritzer said.

“The map gives businesses an opportunity to determine where it would be economically feasible to build and operate EV charging stations,” NCDOT’s Statewide Initiative senior engineer, Paula Hemmer, said in a release. “There are a lot of things to consider, like whether a site is easily accessible to all travelers and a site’s proximity to amenities like restaurants and hotels.”

Locations with access to other amenities are ideal for a charging station, especially if EV owners are stopping on a longer trip, Kritzer said.

This program is Phase I of a broader project to bring EV infrastructure to NC. This phase is targeting businesses along major interstates, with NEVI funds for DC fast chargers, which can charge an EV up to 80% in 20 minutes. Phase II will focus further on communities, with criteria for site selection centered around communities’ input and priorities, according to NCDOT’s North Carolina Plan Update for EV Infrastructure Deployment released in August.

Phase I is estimated to take 2 to 3 years to complete, according to the plan update. 

The push for EV infrastructure comes as the state tries to stake its claim in the manufacturing of EV parts and industry at large. In November, Gov. Roy Cooper announced $1.7 million in funding for the development of EV careers. 

The Siemens Foundation partnered with NC as a part of the $30-million, 10-year, EVeryone Charging Foward program. A year ago, Cooper signed an executive order affirming the state’s committment to a clean energy economy while creating economic opportunities, and in October he signed an executive order moving the state toward zero-emission EVs.
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