Wisconsin’s Gov Signs Electric Vehicle Charging Network Bill

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers recently signed Electric Vehicle Charging Network Bill of Wisconsin aimed at accelerating the establishment of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the state’s interstate system and major highways. These new laws unlock nearly $80 million in federal construction aid and simplify the process for gas stations, convenience stores, and other businesses to operate EV charging stations. The measures have garnered support from both businesses and environmentalists, positioning Wisconsin to enhance its EV charging infrastructure.

The funding primarily targets Level 3 charging stations, which enable passenger EVs to recharge in under an hour. Additionally, lower-level chargers are designed for overnight or day-long recharging. Federal guidelines recommend that charging stations be spaced no more than 50 miles apart.

According to Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, this initiative will allow electric vehicle drivers in Wisconsin to access charging stations within a reasonable distance. Currently, the state boasts nearly 580 publicly accessible EV charging stations. With the $78.7 million in federal grants, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to construct 65 high-speed charging stations along key corridors, leveraging the funding made available through the newly enacted laws by this Electric Vehicle Charging Network Bill.

One of the bills signed by Governor Evers establishes an EV infrastructure program, providing financial assistance to businesses for constructing charging stations over the next five years. Under this program, grant recipients can receive up to 80% coverage of costs, with the remaining 20% contributed by the businesses themselves.

The funding, amounting to $7.5 billion, was included in the 2021 infrastructure law to fulfill President Joe Biden’s goal to establish a national network of 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030. These charging ports play a crucial role in Biden’s efforts to encourage drivers to transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles, which contribute to global warming.

However, progress on this network has been slow. Currently, Ohio and New York are the only states that have opened charging stations under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. As of mid-January, a total of 28 states, along with Puerto Rico, have either awarded contracts to build chargers or have accepted bids to do so.

EV charging stations operate by charging customers based on the amount of electricity used, measured in kilowatt-hours. This method is akin to fueling a vehicle with gasoline. However, Wisconsin law currently restricts utilities to charging per kilowatt-hour. Consequently, any business wanting to offer a charging station would need to be regulated as a utility.

To access federal funding, an exemption from this law was necessary. The Electric Vehicle Charging Network Bill signed by Governor Evers allows private businesses to sell electricity at charging stations based on kilowatt-hours without being regulated as a utility. Users of these charging stations would incur a 3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax. While local government entities and state agencies cannot operate public charging stations, they can establish their stations for charging their vehicles.

Governor Evers emphasized that Wisconsin need not choose between environmental protection and economic development. Instead, the state is committed to achieving both goals in its 21st-century economy.

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