You've obtained NEVI funding, now what?

You've obtained NEVI funding, now what?
Implementation of statewide plans for the NEVI funding program will require expertise in key areas like equity, public engagement, data analytics and utility coordination.

The National Electric Vehicle Infra­struc­ture (NEVI) funding program, created by the Infra­struc­ture Investment and Jobs Act, will provide $5 billion over 5 years to assist state departments of trans­porta­tion (DOTs) in deploying electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along highway corridors. As of August 1, 2022, DOTs in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico have submitted their high-level Electric Vehicle Infra­struc­ture Deployment Plans to the Joint Office of Energy and Trans­porta­tion to achieve Federal Highway Admin­is­tra­tion approval for NEVI funds. 

Now, things get interesting as those plans move toward imple­men­ta­tion. NEVI plan imple­men­ta­tion goes beyond charging infra­struc­ture consid­er­a­tions and into diverse and complex challenges like equity, public engagement, data analytics, and coor­di­na­tion with electric utilities. We’re breaking down some of those challenges with experts who know the details, but don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions.

NEVI EquityEquity and Justice40

Equity is a topic of increasing importance in trans­porta­tion planning, and federal agencies are now making it a priority. The Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s Justice40 initiative outlines a goal of 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments , including NEVI funding, to flow to disad­van­taged communities. According to the Argonne National Laboratory, “for purposes of NEVI, DOT and DOE combine their definitions of disad­van­taged communities, defining it as: energy and trans­porta­tion-burdened communities, communities facing high rates of envi­ron­men­tal pollution, those whose economies are highly dependent on fossil energy sources, and those with high rates of social vulner­a­bil­ity.” 
How can state DOTs ensure that disad­van­taged communities receive equitable consid­er­a­tion for trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture funding? “It’s important to focus on the outcomes you are looking for. Trans­porta­tion has always been about moving people and goods safely,” says Davonna Moore, CDM Smith trans­porta­tion mobility equity subject matter expert. “Cities and states must evaluate where they currently stand regarding equity in their communities. Stock must be taken of what these groups are doing well, while also making note of where initiatives are falling short, and use these obser­va­tions to advise future funding imple­men­ta­tion decisions.” Consid­er­a­tions could include universal acces­si­bil­ity to charging stations that are safe, well-lit, and in centralized locations. And speedy imple­men­ta­tion of electric vehicle infra­struc­ture can also have positive effects on air quality in disad­van­taged communities. 
Tackling equity challenges within the context of NEVI imple­men­ta­tion can be complex, but it is very doable: send your questions to Davonna.

Understand the CommunityPublic Engagement & Outreach

Public engagement should align with equity planning and is another integral factor to consider when imple­ment­ing NEVI funding. A consistent line of commu­ni­ca­tion with the public keeps projects -especially projects of this magnitude - in alignment with affected stake­hold­ers. 
Amy Livingston, CDM Smith’s public involvement discipline leader, emphasizes consistent use of specific metrics will help illustrate the effec­tive­ness of public engagement in infra­struc­ture projects. 
“We want to make sure the solutions we develop consider the life, concerns, and patterns of the day-to-day activity of all trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture users,” she says. “Often, the project development process is not a straight road. When you engage with those who may not have been part of that conver­sa­tion before, you are able to determine, and minimize, the challenges sooner. By making sure those constituents are engaged on the front end, you are preventing potential controversy on the back end.”
For public engagement strategies that make for effective projects, contact Amy for insights.

Data Analytics Data Analytics

How can state DOTs capture the correct levels of historical data to seamlessly analyze electric vehicle infra­struc­ture trends over time? Katie Deheer, product leader and analytics consultant at Trinnex, identifies the importance of designing data collection systems with the end in mind. 
“Start with a mock-up of a dashboard that you want to see, metrics to track, and a set of questions to answer. Work backward to ensure that data collection and storage systems will support your needs,” she says. In the instance of EV infra­struc­ture, data standards are a new frontier. Histor­i­cally, charging station data has been privatized by EV providers. Federal lawmakers require NEVI-funded stations to meet minimum standards of collection and publication, with metrics like uptime, reliability, charge time, and vehicle make and model.
Prototyping analytics with sample data and creating visu­al­iza­tions are key methods to jump-start state DOT data management after NEVI funding imple­men­ta­tion. Reach out to Katie and Trinnex for strategic guidance.

This infrastructure will need to be accessible, reliable and resilient. Consideration should include flood zones, evacuation corridors, and other critical impacts.
Matt Goss, CDM Smith's Energy Practice leader

NEVA EV CoordinationCoor­di­nat­ing with Electric Utilities

Extensive coor­di­na­tion with electric utilities will be a new experience for many state DOTs. Matt Goss, CDM Smith’s energy practice leader, outlines a variety of elements that will need to be considered in electric vehicle charging infra­struc­ture development. 
“Who will own, operate, and maintain the new charging stations? Private companies, government entities, or a mixture of both?,” he points out. “This infra­struc­ture will need to be accessible, reliable and resilient. Consid­er­a­tion should include flood zones, evacuation corridors, and other critical impacts. For any EV charging infra­struc­ture in and along critical routes, power and avail­abil­ity may need to be 24/7. Each DOT will need to work with the relevant utilities to determine what makes the most sense and what is achievable.”
In a broader sense, close and frequent commu­ni­ca­tion and collab­o­ra­tion between state agencies is essential. DOTs will need to closely and frequently communicate with utilities to determine specific timing of and needs for infra­struc­ture development. For example, utilities may need to make grid system improve­ments to support the work on the DOT side. And, as new service connections are established, coor­di­na­tion between utility companies and public service commissions regarding rates and tariffs will be critical. 
“Our under­stand­ing is that it's much easier for utilities to react to consistent, planned loads,” says Goss. “They have a much harder time reacting to large swings in demand. So, providing electric utilities with travel and charging pattern information based on the data analytics surrounding electric vehicle charging stations will be key for long term operability.” To confer with an expert with decades of experience working with electric utilities, contact Matt for his assistance.

NEVA Roadmap Policy Mapping Your Path Forward

These NEVI plans are a major step in the right direction, as the nation moves forward in imple­ment­ing a national EV charging network. State DOTs have put in extensive work to their NEVI plans to date, and with the right guidance, they will be well-prepared to tackle the broad array of challenges related to imple­men­ta­tion. To gain insights from a team that has wide-ranging experience in all of these realms, contact the CDM Smith trans­porta­tion elec­tri­fi­ca­tion team.

Matt Goss Matt Goss
With the right guidance, DOTs will be well-prepared to tackle the challenges of implementation.

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